It is used in dating things such as bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers that were created in the relatively recent past by human activities.

Scientists look at half-life decay rates of radioactive isotopes to estimate when a particular atom might decay.

Carbon dating and half video

This stuff is important to know when using radioactive isotopes as medical tracers, which are taken into the body to allow doctors to trace a pathway or find a blockage, or in cancer treatments.

They need to be active long enough to treat the condition, but they should also have a short enough half-life so that they don’t injure healthy cells and organs.

Radioactive dating is helpful for figuring out the age of ancient things.

Carbon-14 (C-14), a radioactive isotope of carbon, is produced in the upper atmosphere by cosmic radiation.

How do scientists know how old an object or human remains are?

What methods do they use and how do these methods work?

Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and animals eat plants.

This means all living things have radioactive carbon-14 in them.

Knowing about half-lives is important because it enables you to determine when a sample of radioactive material is safe to handle.

The rule is that a sample is safe when its radioactivity has dropped below detection limits. So, if radioactive iodine-131 (which has a half-life of 8 days) is injected into the body to treat thyroid cancer, it’ll be “gone” in 10 half-lives, or 80 days.

The halflife of carbon 14 is 5730 ± 30 years, and the method of dating lies in trying to determine how much carbon 14 (the radioactive isotope of carbon) is present in the artifact and comparing it to levels currently present in the atmosphere.