Definition radioisotope dating

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Every chemical element has one or more radioactive isotopes.

For example, hydrogen, the lightest element, has three isotopes, which have mass numbers 1, 2, and 3.

Other significant applications include the use of radioactive isotopes as compact sources of electrical power—e.g., plutonium-238 in spacecraft.

In such cases, the heat produced in the decay of the radioactive isotope is converted into electricity by means of thermoelectric junction circuits or related devices.

a technique for determining the age of minerals based on the occurrence in natural potassium of a small fixed amount of radioisotope 40K that decays to the stable argon isotope 40Ar with a half-life of 1.28x109 years.

Measurement of the ratio of these isotopes thus gives the age of the minerala technique for determining the age of organic materials, such as wood, based on their content of the radioisotope 14C acquired from the atmosphere when they formed part of a living plant.

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tritium), however, is a radioactive isotope, the other two being stable.

Its distribution can be tracked according to the radiation it gives off.

In radiotherapy, radioisotopes typically are employed to destroy diseased cells.

Some of these are found in nature; the rest are produced artificially as the direct products of nuclear reactions or indirectly as the radioactive descendants of these products.

Each “parent” radioactive isotope eventually decays into one or at most a few stable isotope “daughters” specific to that parent. Some radioactive isotopes are present as terrestrial radiation.

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