Application of isotopes in carbon dating

Once a living thing dies, it no longer acquires carbon-14; as time passes the carbon-14 that was in the tissues decays.

(The half-life of carbon-14 is 5,370 y.) If a once-living artifact is discovered and analyzed many years after its death and the remaining carbon-14 is compared to the known constant level, an approximate age of the artifact can be determined.

Radioactive isotopes have a variety of applications.

Generally, however, they are useful because either we can detect their radioactivity or we can use the energy they release.

Shroud of Turin In 1989, several groups of scientists used carbon-14 dating to demonstrate that the Shroud of Turin was only 600–700 y.

Many people still cling to a different notion, despite the scientific evidence.

We know these steps because researchers followed the progress of carbon-14 throughout the process.

Radioactive isotopes are useful for establishing the ages of various objects.

For determining age of fossils older than 60,000 years one uses a potassium-argon dating technique.Contrary to the belief of some people, irradiation of food Radioactive isotopes have numerous medical applications—diagnosing and treating illness and diseases.One example of a diagnostic application is using radioactive iodine-131 to test for thyroid activity (Figure 15.4 “Medical Diagnostics”).For instance, leaks in underground water pipes can be discovered by running some tritium-containing water through the pipes and then using a Geiger counter to locate any radioactive tritium subsequently present in the ground around the pipes.(Recall that tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.) Tracers can also be used to follow the steps of a complex chemical reaction.

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Using such methods, scientists determined that the age of the Shroud of Turin (Figure 15.3 “Shroud of Turin”; purported by some to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ and composed of flax fibres, a type of plant) is about 600–700 y, not 2,000 y as claimed by some.

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