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Scientists look at half-life decay rates of radioactive isotopes to estimate when a particular atom might decay.

A useful application of half-lives is radioactive dating.

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This has to do with figuring out the age of ancient things.

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Radioactive dating is helpful for figuring out the age of ancient things.This decay is an example of an exponential decay, shown in the figure below.Knowing about half-lives is important because it enables you to determine when a sample of radioactive material is safe to handle.The rule is that a sample is safe when its radioactivity has dropped below detection limits. So, if radioactive iodine-131 (which has a half-life of 8 days) is injected into the body to treat thyroid cancer, it’ll be “gone” in 10 half-lives, or 80 days.This stuff is important to know when using radioactive isotopes as medical tracers, which are taken into the body to allow doctors to trace a pathway or find a blockage, or in cancer treatments.

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