Explain how half life is used in radioactive dating music fans dating
The rate of decay (given the symbol λ) is the fraction of the 'parent' atoms that decay in unit time.
The unstable or more commonly known radioactive isotopes break down by radioactive decay into other isotopes.
All living organisms take up carbon from their environment including a small proportion of the radioactive isotope 14C (formed from nitrogen-14 as a result of cosmic ray bombardment).
The amount of carbon isotopes within living organisms reaches an equilibrium value, on death no more is taken up, and the 14C present starts to decay at a known rate.
This technique has become more widely used since the late 1950s.
Its great advantage is that most rocks contain potassium, usually locked up in feldspars, clays and amphiboles.