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On the Validity of the Poisson Hypothesis for Low-Level Counting; Investigation of the Distributional Characteristics of Background Radiation with the NIST Individual Pulse Counting System

Published

Author(s)

George A. Klouda, Lloyd A. Currie, E M. Eijgenhuijsen

Abstract

Does radioactive decay follow the Poisson distribution?--a fundamental question to which the theoretical answer seems to be, Yes. On the practical side, the answer to this question impacts the best achievable precision in well-controlled counting experiments. There have been some noteworthy experimental tests of the Poisson assumption, using systems carefully designed for the analysis of individual pulses from stable radioactive sources; thus far, experiment supports theory. For low-level counting, the nature of the background distribution can be of profound practical importance, especially for very long counting experiments where validation by an adequate number of full replicates may be impracticable. One is tempted in such cases to assume that the variance is equal to the mean, in order to estimate the measurement uncertainty. Background radiation, however, has multiple components, only some of which are governed by the laws of radioactive decay.
Citation
Radiocarbon
Volume
40
Issue
No. 1-2

Keywords

afterpulses, background distribution, GM counting, individual pulse analysis, low-level counting, on-line background, Poisson process

Citation

Klouda, G. , Currie, L. and Eijgenhuijsen, E. (1998), On the Validity of the Poisson Hypothesis for Low-Level Counting; Investigation of the Distributional Characteristics of Background Radiation with the NIST Individual Pulse Counting System, Radiocarbon (Accessed April 22, 2024)
Created August 1, 1998, Updated February 17, 2017