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The Importance Of Radioactive Decay And Half-Life.

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The Importance Of Radioactive Decay And Half-Life

The main highlighted reasons for the importance of Radioactive decay and half life is in Health and Medical that it is used in the sterilisation of food, medical supplies etc., sterilisation of male pest insects to reduce breeding, radiation therapy to kill cancer cells, diagnosis of brain tumours, blocked arteries etc., research into the workings of the brain etc. and in Radio Dating and Analysis is that it is used in dating of rocks, deep ice, ocean movements, archaeological facts and remains, chemical mechanisms, equilibrium constants and dynamic exchange, analysis of trace materials  and art forgeries.

Radiotherapy is widely used for the treatment of some kinds of cancer. In radiotherapy the high energy of g-radiation is used to kill cancer cells and prevent the malignant tumour from developing. Although this may be successful, there are often unpleasant side effects such as nausea and hair loss. Patients are usually treated in the supine position (lying on their backs).

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Radioactive elements such as uranium (U) and thorium (Th) decay naturally to form different elements or isotopes of the same element. (Isotopes are atoms of any elements that differ in mass from that element, but possess the same general chemical and optical properties.) This decay is accompanied by the emission of radiation or particles (alpha, beta, or gamma rays) from the nucleus, by nuclear capture, or by ejection of orbital electrons. A number of isotopes decay to a stable product, a so-called daughter isotope, in a single step (for example, carbon-14), whereas others involve many steps before a stable isotope is formed. Multistep radioactive decay series include, for example, the uranium-235, uranium-238, and thorium-232 families. If a daughter isotope is stable, it accumulates until the parent isotope has completely decayed. If a daughter isotope is also radioactive, however, equilibrium is reached when the daughter decays as fast as it is formed.

Radioactive decay may take different routes.

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Although the method is suited to a variety of organic materials, accuracy depends on the half-life to be used, variations in levels of atmospheric carbon-14, and contamination. (The half-life of radiocarbon was redefined from 5,570 ± 30 years to 5,730 ± 40 years in 1962, so some dates determined earlier required adjustment; and due to radioactivity more recently introduced into the atmosphere, radiocarbon dates are calculated from AD 1950.) The radiocarbon timescale also contains other uncertainties, and errors as great as 2,000 to 5,000 years may occur. Postdepositional contamination, which is the most serious problem, may be caused by percolating groundwater, incorporation of older or younger carbon, and contamination in the field or laboratory.

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