When an unstable nucleus gives out an alpha or beta particle, the nucleus turns into the nucleus of a new element. This process is called radioactive decay. Although radioactive decay is a random process, statistically, over a time called the half-life , half of the parent radioactive nuclei will have decayed. Working out the half-life allows us to calculate when a radioactive element will become stable. Look at the diagram.
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Every graph shows the same mathematical feature which is that for a particular time interval the amount of The half-life of a radioisotope is the average time it takes for half of the remaining undecayed radioactive nuclei atoms to decay to a different nucleus atom. Your email address will not be published. Search for:. Already a member? Accessibility links. Radiocarbon dating.
Radioactive decay is a random process. However, even tiny pieces of material contain very many atoms. Some of its unstable nuclei decay in a short time, while others decay much later. So, we use the time in which half of any of these unstable nuclei will decay. The half-life of a radioactive isotope is the time taken for half the unstable nuclei in a sample to decay.
The Uses and Limitations of Carbon Dating. What are the Uses of Carbon Dating? Carbon dating can be used on anything which used to be alive. Animal or human remains , including skin , fur and bone. Plant remains , including wood , natural fibres cotton , silk , wool , cloth , rope , seeds and pollen grains.
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