Recently, as reported by Science Daily, radiocarbon dating was used to identify a forged painting based upon the concentrations of carbon-14 (detected on the canvas) within the atmosphere at the time that the picture was painted.
So, to sum this all up, radioactive dating is the process scientists use to conclude the ages of substances dating back several to many years ago by using the isotopes of elements and their half-lives.
The half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of the atoms of a specific isotope to decay.
(Remember, isotopes are variations of elements with a different number of neutrons.) The half-life is reliable in dating artifacts because it is not affected by environmental or chemical factors; it does not change.
Ever wonder how scientists concluded the age of the earth to be about 4.6 billion years old or how geologists determined the ages of caverns, rocks, volcanoes and the Himalayas? Well, scientists are able to answer all of these wondrous questions and more by use of a process called radiometric or radioactive dating.
Radioactive dating enables geologists to record the history of the earth and its events, such as the dinosaur era, within what they call the geologic time scale.
These are both isotopes of the element carbon present in a constant ratio while an organism is living; however, once an organism dies, the ratio of carbon-14 decreases as the isotope deteriorates.
Radiocarbon dating can only be used to date items back to as far as about 50,000 years old.
They then count the number of half-lives passed and compute the absolute age of the sample.An isotope disintegrates at a constant rate called the half-life --the time it takes for half the atoms of a sample to decay. By counting the number of half-lives and the percentages remaining of parent and daughter isotopes, scientists are able to determine what they call the absolute age of a discovery.Carbon-14 is a specific isotope used in dating materials that were once living.Just as in the example with uranium, scientists are able to determine the age of a sample by using the ratios of the daughter product compared to the parent.Also, when dating with carbon-14, scientists compare the amount of carbon-14 to carbon -12.Radioactive dating uses the ratios of isotopes and their specific decay products to determine the ages of rocks, fossils and other substances.Elements occur naturally in the earth, and they can tell us a lot about our Earth's past.The isotope doesn't actually deteriorate; it just changes into something else.Isotopes decay at a constant rate known as the half-life.You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree.Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.