Carbon dating elementary

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.

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The primary carbon-containing compound in the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, and a very small amount of carbon dioxide contains C-14.It might take a millisecond, or it might take a century. But if you have a large enough sample, a pattern begins to emerge.It takes a certain amount of time for half the atoms in a sample to decay.It then takes the same amount of time for half the remaining radioactive atoms to decay, and the same amount of time for half of those remaining radioactive atoms to decay, and so on. The amount of time it takes for one-half of a sample to decay is called the half-life of the isotope, and it’s given the symbol: It’s important to realize that the half-life decay of radioactive isotopes is not linear.For example, you can’t find the remaining amount of an isotope as 7.5 half-lives by finding the midpoint between 7 and 8 half-lives.It can’t be used to determine the age of a moon rock or a meteorite.For nonliving substances, scientists use other isotopes, such as potassium-40.The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.The resulting radiocarbon combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis; animals then acquire in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.Scientists look at half-life decay rates of radioactive isotopes to estimate when a particular atom might decay.A useful application of half-lives is radioactive dating.

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