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Plants absorb C-14 during photosynthesis, so C-14 is incorporated into the cellular structure of plants.

Plants are then eaten by animals, making C-14 a part of the cellular structure of all living things.

Well, there are a few complications: Potassium 40 has a branched decay: only 1/9 of all K-40 atoms decay to Ar-40.

The others decay to Ca-40, which is the only natural isotope of calcium.

Analyze small portions of the sample and plot a graph of argon versus potassium content.

Occasionally, ages can be too old, for example, historic lava flows can yield K-Ar ages of millions of years.It might take a millisecond, or it might take a century. But if you have a large enough sample, a pattern begins to emerge.It takes a certain amount of time for half the atoms in a sample to decay.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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