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Potassium half life dating

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With radiocarbon dating, the amount of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 is measured.

Compared to some of the other radioactive isotopes we have discussed, carbon-14's half-life of 5,730 years is considerably shorter, as it decays into nitrogen-14.

So, if you know the radioactive isotope found in a substance and the isotope's half-life, you can calculate the age of the substance. Well, a simple explanation is that it is the time required for a quantity to fall to half of its starting value.

So, you might say that the 'full-life' of a radioactive isotope ends when it has given off all of its radiation and reaches a point of being non-radioactive.

With rubidium-strontium dating, we see that rubidium-87 decays into strontium-87 with a half-life of 50 billion years.

By anyone's standards, 50 billion years is a long time.

These differing rates of decay help make uranium-lead dating one of the most reliable methods of radiometric dating because they provide two different decay clocks.

This provides a built-in cross-check to more accurately determine the age of the sample.

There are different methods of radiometric dating that will vary due to the type of material that is being dated.

For example, how do we know that the Iceman, whose frozen body was chipped out of glacial ice in 1991, is 5,300 years old?

Well, we know this because samples of his bones and hair and even his grass boots and leather belongings were subjected to radiocarbon dating.

Because plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, this isotope ends up inside the plant, and because animals eat plants, they get some as well.

When a plant or an animal dies, it stops taking in carbon-14.