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Uses of radioisotopes in carbon 14 dating

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However, carbon-14 dating is only one of many applications of what we call radioisotopes, or isotopes of elements that are unstable, leading to radioactivity as result.Although there is a perception that radioactivity is generally deadly, radioisotopes have also provided us with many important advances in science, medicine, and technology.C, or radiocarbon, is a radioactive isotope of carbon with an atomic nucleus containing 6 protons and 8 neutrons.Its presence in organic materials is the basis of the radiocarbon dating method pioneered by Willard Libby and colleagues (1949) to date archaeological, geological and hydrogeological samples.

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The unstable Carbon-14 is transported down to the lower atmosphere by atmospheric activity such as storms.In addition to dating once-living organisms, radioisotopes can also be used for features of our natural landscape.For example, uranium-238, having a half-life of 4.5 billion years, can be used to date rock formations.The unstable Carbon-14 within the organism begins to decay to form Nitrogen-14 by emitting a beta particle.Over time there is a gradual decrease in the amount of Carbon-14 and the ratio of Carbon-14 atoms to other Carbon atoms declines. Therefore half of the Carbon-14 has decayed after 5730 years.Half of the remaining Carbon-14 then decays over the next 5730 years leaving one fourth of the original amount.