Use of radioactive isotopes in carbon dating


26-Nov-2019 19:04

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”).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.The amount of radioactive iodine that collects there is directly related to the activity of the thyroid, allowing trained physicians to diagnose both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.Iodine-131 has a half-life of only 8 d, so the potential for damage due to exposure is minimal.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.

use of radioactive isotopes in carbon dating-42

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For example, if a rock is analyzed and is found to contain a certain amount of uranium-235 and a certain amount of its daughter isotope, we can conclude that a certain fraction of the original uranium-235 has radioactively decayed.One isotope, carbon-14, is particularly useful in determining the age of once-living artifacts.A tiny amount of carbon-14 is produced naturally in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, and living things incorporate some of it into their tissues, building up to a constant, albeit very low, level.After incorporating radioactive atoms into reactant molecules, scientists can track where the atoms go by following their radioactivity.

One excellent example of this is the use of carbon-14 to determine the steps involved in photosynthesis in plants.Very little radioactive material is needed in these diagnostic techniques because the radiation emitted is so easy to detect.



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