The methods work because radioactive elements are unstable, and they are always trying to move to a more stable state. This process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by releasing radiation is called radioactive decay.

The thing that makes this decay process so valuable for determining the age of an object is that each radioactive isotope decays at its own fixed rate, which is expressed in terms of its half-life.

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Sometimes we omit The most important types of radioactive particles are alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays, and X-rays.

An alpha particle, α, is equivalent to a helium nucleus, \(\ce\).

The nuclear configuration of a stable isotope remains constant with time.

Unstable isotopes, however, spontaneously disintegrate, emitting radioactive particles as they transform into a more stable form.

This is very different from radiation chemistry where the radiation levels are kept too low to influence the chemistry.

Radiochemistry includes the study of both natural and man-made radioisotopes.Free 5-day trial Radiometric dating is used to estimate the age of rocks and other objects based on the fixed decay rate of radioactive isotopes.Learn about half-life and how it is used in different dating methods, such as uranium-lead dating and radiocarbon dating, in this video lesson. As we age, our hair turns gray, our skin wrinkles and our gait slows.Radioactive isotopes are used to measure fossils and other artifacts. Once the organism dies, the isotopes do not enter the body anymore.Scientists can estimate how much of the radioactive isotopes were present in the body to begin with and then determine how much is currently left. Although an element’s different isotopes have the same chemical properties, their nuclear properties are different.