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What is carbon dating bbc bitesize

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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.

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Different isotopes have different half-lives. Plutonium has a half-life of 24, years but plutonium has a half-life of only The half-life of a particular isotope is unaffected by chemical reactions or physical changes.

For example, radioactive decay does not slow down if a radioactive substance is put in a fridge.

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Half-life can be used to work out the age of fossils or wooden objects. Living things absorb carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds.

Some of the carbon atoms are carbon, which is a radioactive isotope of carbon. Carbon has a half-life of about 5, years.

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When a living thing dies, it stops absorbing carbon This means the amount of carbon will decrease over time. The amount left can be compared to currently living organisms and an approximate age given for the fossil. For example, if an ancient dead tree contains half the expected amount of carbon, it must have died about 5, years ago.

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Radioactive decay causes a reduction in the number of unstable nuclei in a sample. In turn, this reduces the count rate measured by a detector such as a Geiger-Muller tube.

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Another way to define the half-life of a radioactive isotope is the time taken for count rate from a sample to decrease by a half.

The table shows how the count rate of an isotope might change over time.

Notice how the count rate falls to half its previous value every four days. This is the half-life of the isotope.

Note that this is equal to: Use the table to determine the net decline, expressed as a ratio, after 6 half-lives. Half-life Radioactive decay is a random process.

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Using half-life Half-life can be used to work out the age of fossils or wooden objects. A graph showing how the amount of carbon atoms in a sample would change over time Calculating net decline - Higher Radioactive decay causes a reduction in the number of unstable nuclei in a sample.

Carbon dating uses the amount...

Question Use the table to determine the net decline, expressed as a ratio, after 6 half-lives. Every living organism contains the radioisotope carbon Carbon is formed when neutrons from cosmic radiation collide with nitrogen atoms in our. Carbon dating uses the amount of carbon in a sample to measure its age.


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