Frosty the Snowman Meets His Demise: An Analogy to Carbon Dating
4 The Physical Setting
The Structure of Matter
For Grades: 9-12
Learning Goal 4
The nucleus of radioactive isotopes is unstable and spontaneously decays, emitting particles and/or wavelike radiation. It cannot be predicted exactly when, if ever, an unstable nucleus will decay, but a large group of identical nuclei decay at a predictable rate. This predictability of decay rate allows radioactivity to be used for estimating the age of materials that contain radioactive substances.