Half-LifeDate: 06/24/2001 at 15:40:14 From: Joe DeMarco Subject: Half Lives Please help me; I do not know what a half life is. Can you explain it to me in simple terms? Thanks a bunch, Joe Date: 06/26/2001 at 10:19:22 From: Doctor Roy Subject: Re: Half Lives Hello, Half-life involves radioactive isotopes of elements. Take the radioactive isotope of Carbon known as carbon-14. The half- life of carbon-14 is around 5700 years. This means that in 5700 years, only half of our original sample of carbon-14 will be left. Imagine that we started with 256 g of carbon-14; in 5700 years, we will be left with 128 g of carbon-14. Further, in another 5700 years (or 11400 years from our starting point), we will be left with 64 g (or half of 128g) of carbon-14. Then in another 5700 years (or 17100 years from the starting point), we will have 32 g (or half 64 g) of carbon-14. This process continues until the isotope disappears completely. It is actually a very efficient way of dating ancient remains and records from the last 20000 years or so. Several artifacts have been dated in this manner. All radioactive isotopes have a half-life. The half-life ranges from picoseconds for the latest elements created in the lab, to billions of years in the case of uranium. In fact, it is uranium dating that is used to date remains from the time before people were even on the earth. I hope this helps. - Doctor Roy, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ Date: 06/27/2001 at 14:27:22 From: Rocking Dave Subject: Re: Half Lives Yes, it does actually. Thanks a lot! |
Search the Dr. Math Library: |
[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]
Ask Dr. Math^{TM}
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/