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What is the purpose of radioactive dating
As long as an organism is alive, the amount of C-14 in its cellular structure remains constant.
But when the organism dies, the amount of C-14 begins to decrease.
Scientists look at half-life decay rates of radioactive isotopes to estimate when a particular atom might decay.
Carbon-14 dating can only be used to determine the age of something that was once alive.
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.