Explain how radioactive decay is used in carbon dating

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As radioactive isotopes of elements decay, they lose their radio activity and become a brand new element known as a daughter isotope.By measuring the ratio of the amount of the original radioactive element to the daughter isotope, scientists can determine how many half-lives the element has undergone and from there can figure out the absolute age of the sample.The amount of carbon-14 in the air has stayed the same for thousands of years.There is a small amount of radioactive carbon-14 in all living organisms because it enters the food chain.Droughts and other variations in the climate make the tree grow slower or faster than normal, which shows up in the widths of the tree rings.These tree ring variations will appear in all trees growing in a certain region, so scientists can match up the growth rings of living and dead trees.

As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 55,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more.Once an organism dies, it stops taking in carbon-14.The carbon-14 it contained at the time of death decays over a long period of time, and the radioactivity of the material decreases.This technique relies on the property of half-life.Half-life is defined as the time it takes for one half of a radioactive element to decay into a daughter isotope.

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