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Carbon14 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 onehalf of a sample to decay is called the halflife of the isotope, and it’s given the symbol: It’s important to realize that the halflife decay of radioactive isotopes is not linear.
For example, you can’t find the remaining amount of an isotope as 7.5 halflives by finding the midpoint between 7 and 8 halflives.
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