This rate of decay is constant for a given isotope, and the time it takes for one-half of a particular isotope to decay is its radioactive half-life. For example, about 1.5 percent of a quantity of Uranium 238 will decay to lead every 100 million years.
How is half-life used in radiometric dating?
Radiometric dating is a method used to date rocks and other objects based on the known decay rate of radioactive isotopes. Each radioactive isotope decays at its own fixed rate, which is expressed in terms of its half-life or, in other words, the time required for a quantity to fall to half of its starting value.
How do scientists use half-lives?
Scientists can use the half-life of Carbon-14 to determine the approximate age of organic objects less than 40,000 years old. By determining how much of the carbon-14 has transmutated, scientist can calculate and estimate the age of a substance. This technique is known as Carbon dating.
How does half life dating work?
After one half-life has elapsed, one half of the atoms of the nuclide in question will have decayed into a “daughter” nuclide, or decay product. Systems that have been exploited for radiometric dating have half-lives ranging from only about 10 years (e.g., tritium) to over 100 billion years (e.g., Samarium-147).
Why does half-life happen?
A half-life is the time taken for something to halve its quantity. The term is most often used in the context of radioactive decay, which occurs when unstable atomic particles lose energy. Twenty-nine elements are known to be capable of undergoing this process.