Carbon dating formula

In other words, the probability of a radioactive atom decaying within its half-life is 50%.

For example, the image on the right is a simulation of many identical atoms undergoing radioactive decay.

Consider a mixture of a rapidly decaying element A, with a half-life of 1 second, and a slowly decaying element B, with a half-life of 1 year.

In a couple of minutes, almost all atoms of element A will have decayed after repeated halving of the initial number of atoms, but very few of the atoms of element B will have done so as only a tiny fraction of its half-life has elapsed.

In such cases, the half-life is defined the same way as before: as the time elapsed before half of the original quantity has decayed.

However, unlike in an exponential decay, the half-life depends on the initial quantity, and the prospective half-life will change over time as the quantity decays.

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The decay of many physical quantities is not exponential—for example, the evaporation of water from a puddle, or (often) the chemical reaction of a molecule.This is an example where the half-life reduces as time goes on.(In other non-exponential decays, it can increase instead.) The decay of a mixture of two or more materials which each decay exponentially, but with different half-lives, is not exponential.Thus, the mixture taken as a whole will not decay by halves.A biological half-life or elimination half-life is the time it takes for a substance (drug, radioactive nuclide, or other) to lose one-half of its pharmacologic, physiologic, or radiological activity.

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