In the field of nondestructive testing radiographers (people who produce radiographs to inspect objects) also use half-life information.A radiographer who works with radioisotopes needs to know the specific half-life to properly determine how much radiation the source in the camera is producing so that the film can be exposed properly.As we have mentioned before each radioactive isotope has its own decay pattern.Not only does it decay by giving off energy and matter, but it also decays at a rate that is characteristic to itself.The half-lives of certain types of radioisotopes are very useful to know.They allow us to determine the ages of very old artifacts.After one half-life of a given radioisotope, only one half as much of the original number of atoms remains active.Let's look closely at how the half-life affects an isotope. Therefore, after one half-life, you would have 5 grams of Barium-139, and 5 grams of Lanthanum-139.
The rate at which a radioactive isotope decays is measured in half-life.The term half-life is defined as the time it takes for one-half of the atoms of a radioactive material to disintegrate.Half-lives for various radioisotopes can range from a few microseconds to billions of years.See the table below for a list of radioisotopes and each of unique their half-lives. After 86 minutes, half of the atoms in the sample would have decayed into another element, Lanthanum-139.
Scientists can use the half-life of Carbon-14 to determine the approximate age of organic objects less than 40,000 years old.By determining how much of the carbon-14 has transmutated, scientist can calculate and estimate the age of a substance. Isotopes with longer half-lives such as Uranium-238 can be used to date even older objects.