Which isotope is used to perform radiocarbon dating
If you could watch a single atom of a radioactive isotope, U-238, for example, you wouldn’t be able to predict when that particular atom might decay.It might take a millisecond, or it might take a century. But if you have a large enough sample, a pattern begins to emerge.Fortunately, Willard Libby, a scientist who would later win the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, developed the process known as radiocarbon dating in the late 1940s. In a nutshell, it works like this: After an organism dies, it stops absorbing carbon-14, so the radioactive isotope starts to decay and is not replenished.Archaeologists can then measure the amount of carbon-14 compared to the stable isotope carbon-12 and determine how old an item is.Radioactive dating is helpful for figuring out the age of ancient things.
This has to do with figuring out the age of ancient things.
Knowing about half-lives is important because it enables you to determine when a sample of radioactive material is safe to handle.
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.
Despite these limitations, radiocarbon dating will often get you a decent ballpark figure.
While other methods of dating objects exist, radiocarbon dating has remained vital for most archaeologists.The primary carbon-containing compound in the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, and a very small amount of carbon dioxide contains C-14.