It is often used on valuable artwork to confirm authenticity.
For example, look at this image of the opening of King Tutankhamen's tomb near Luxor, Egypt during the 1920s.
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You might remember that it was mentioned earlier that the amount of carbon-14 in living things is the same as the atmosphere.Once they die, they stop taking in carbon-14, and the amount present starts to decrease at a constant half-life rate.The half-life is the time required for half of the original sample of radioactive nuclei to decay.For example, if you start off with 1000 radioactive nuclei with a half-life of 10 days, you would have 500 left after 10 days; you would have 250 left after 20 days (2 half-lives); and so on.Radiocarbon dating has been used extensively since its discovery.
Examples of use include analyzing charcoal from prehistoric caves, ancient linen and wood, and mummified remains.
Scientists often use the value of 10 half-lives to indicate when a radioactive isotope will be gone, or rather, when a very negligible amount is still left.
This is why radiocarbon dating is only useful for dating objects up to around 50,000 years old (about 10 half-lives).
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Radioactive carbon-14 is continually formed in the atmosphere by the bombardment of cosmic ray neutrons on nitrogen-14 atoms.