Radioactive decay age dating

For instance, if an object has 50 percent of its decay product, it has been through one half-life.A popular way to determine the ages of biological substances no more than 50,000 years old is to measure the decay of carbon-14 into nitrogen-14.This process begins as soon as a living thing dies and is unable to produce more carbon-14.Plants produce carbon-14 through photosynthesis, while animals and people ingest carbon-14 by eating plants. Scientists determine the ages of once-living things by measuring the amount of carbon-14 in the material.Scientists calculate ages by measuring how much of the isotope remains in the substance.Continue Reading The key to an age of a substance is the decay-product ratio.

This is called Therefore the characteristic property of the radioisotope, namely its radioactivity can act as a tag or label, which permits the fate of the element or its compound containing this element to be traced through a series of chemical or physical changes.Because C14 has a very short half life, less than 6000 years, it does not work on material much over 60,000 years (about ten half lives).Potassium/Argon is another useful set of isotopes that can yield the ages of rocks and inorganic matter far older--many millions of years old.All radioactive decays follow first order kinetics.Therefore, the half-life of a radioactive element is independent of the amount of sample.

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