Radioisotopes as tracers in carbon dating

Posted by / 10-Jun-2020 11:13

Radioisotopes as tracers in carbon dating

after four half lives only 1/16 or 5.5% of the isotope is left giving an age of 21,600 years.

After seven half lives (37,200 years) there is less than 1% left (.6875% ).

The world we live in contains C-14 in very small amounts.

Unlike the arrangement of protons and neutrons in the nucleus of carbon-12, the arrangement in carbon-14 is unstable.

There is a lot of low level natural radioactivity around us.

For example, our bodies contain radioisotopes, such as potassium-40, which continuously emit radiation, but because the amount is very low, no damage is done.

Atoms of carbon-14 undergo a random rearrangement in a process called radioactive decay. The time taken for a given amount of carbon-14 to decay so that only half of it remains is called the half-life. Scientists can use this to calculate the age of very old items of archaeological interest, provided they have a plant or animal origin.

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This makes any age greater than 40,000 years suspect.