Emulating a radioactive source with an Arduino

A project log for Building Schrödinger's Cat

Building Schrödinger's famous experiment for real An example project for the Enlightened Raspberry Pi Contest

adam-fabioAdam Fabio 10/03/2016 at 03:010 Comments

Schrödinger's original letter included the following text: " in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none "

Unfortunately, I don't have any radioactive sources that small. Nor would my wife be happy about me putting radioactive material in a box with the cat - even if it is a tiny amount of radiation. To this end, I will be using a random number generator for this project. You might think that this destroys the entire point of Schrödinger's experiment, but concessions have to be made in the name of a happy marriage.

Luckily the Arduino includes a pseudo-random number generator. This generator needs a random seed to operate. I can use a human to generate the random seed. This is the same technique I used in The trinket randomizer. When a command is given, the Arduino checks millis() for the counter value, then runs it's pseudo-random number generator routine. By determining if the pseudo-random number is odd or even, I achieve a random event with roughly 50% probability.