Decay of Potassium, Uranium and Thorium in MetaSynth

Radioactive Counterpoint

After experimenting a while with musical representation of properties in physics, I found that one of the most obvious paths is of course to make music out of radioactive decay.

Decay of Potassium, Uranium and Thorium
Decay of Potassium, Uranium and Thorium

Radioactive decay describes energy emittance over time, which is exactly what music does as well (though the latter is more about emotional energies than matter).

Ionizing radiation is something natural. We all live in a radiating universe. The Earth, and all living things on it, are constantly bombarded by radiation from outside our solar system and the sun in our own. Most materials on Earth contain some radioactive atoms, even if in small quantities. We humans are radioactive carrying many radiactive elements in our body. Through the evolution our body have built its own system with a battery of enzymes constantly repairing chemical damage due to radiation.

The major radionuclides of concern for terrestrial radiation are potassium, uranium, and thorium. Each of these sources has been decreasing in activity since the birth of the Earth so that our present dose from potassium-40 is about ½ what it would have been at the dawn of life on Earth.

I have transformed into music the decay energy spectras from the metals Potassium (K-40), Uranium (U-238) and Thorium (Th-232). Their respective curve of decay blends into a wonderful radioactive counterpoint when combined and tweaked a bit to fit into the scale of A minor harmonic. Here is the sounding result:


..and here is the spectral analysis audio version of these decays: