Half life age dating

The half-lives of several radioactive isotopes are known and are used often to figure out the age of newly found fossils.Different isotopes have different half-lives and sometimes more than one present isotope can be used to get an even more specific age of a fossil.The best radioactive element to use to date human fossils is Carbon-14.There are several reasons why, but the main reasons is that Carbon-14 is a naturally occurring isotope in all forms of life and its half-life is about 5730 years, so we are able to use it to date more "recent" forms of life relative to the Geologic Time Scale.

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For nonliving substances, scientists use other isotopes, such as potassium-40.

Plants absorb C-14 during photosynthesis, so C-14 is incorporated into the cellular structure of plants.

Plants are then eaten by animals, making C-14 a part of the cellular structure of all living things.

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.

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.

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