What is radioactive isotope dating

When a living organism dies, the radioactive carbon is no longer absorbed, and the ratio of carbon 14 present begins to decrease.The amount still present in a sample of what was once a living creature can thus be used to determine its age.Neutrons are ejected from nuclei of the upper atmosphere in collisions with cosmic rays (A).Captured by nitrogen nuclei (N-14), neutrons transform these nuclei into carbon-14 (B).

This radioactive isotope of carbon is called radiocarbon.As radioactive Parent atoms decay to stable daughter atoms (as uranium decays to lead) each disintegration results in one more atom of the daughter than was initially present and one less atom of the parent.The probability of a parent atom decaying in a fixed period of time is always the same for all atoms of that type regardless of temperature, pressure, or chemical conditions. The time required for one-half of any original number of parent atoms to decay is the half-life, which is related to the decay constant by a simple mathematical formula.The carbon 14 found in nature is constantly being regenerated by cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere.The rate at which the regeneration takes place has gone virtually unchanged for centuries; a feature which depends on the flux of particles bombarding the earth, and the strength of the magnetic field capable of diverting them.

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