kelly blatz dating - The math behind radioactive carbon dating

Illustration of the relative abilities of three different types of ionizing radiation to penetrate solid matter.

Typical alpha particles (α) are stopped by a sheet of paper, while beta particles (β) are stopped by an aluminum plate.

Gamma radiation (γ) is damped when it penetrates lead.

the math behind radioactive carbon dating-25

Radiation is often categorized as either ionizing or non-ionizing depending on the energy of the radiated particles.

Ionizing radiation carries more than 10 e V, which is enough to ionize atoms and molecules, and break chemical bonds.

This is an important distinction due to the large difference in harmfulness to living organisms.

A common source of ionizing radiation is radioactive materials that emit α, β, or γ radiation, consisting of helium nuclei, electrons or positrons, and photons, respectively.

Other sources include X-rays from medical radiography examinations and muons, mesons, positrons, neutrons and other particles that constitute the secondary cosmic rays that are produced after primary cosmic rays interact with Earth's atmosphere.

Gamma rays, X-rays and the higher energy range of ultraviolet light constitute the ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The lower-energy, longer-wavelength part of the spectrum including visible light, infrared light, microwaves, and radio waves is non-ionizing; its main effect when interacting with tissue is heating.

This type of radiation only damages cells if the intensity is high enough to cause excessive heating.

Ultraviolet radiation has some features of both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

While the part of the ultraviolet spectrum that penetrates the Earth's atmosphere is non-ionizing, this radiation does far more damage to many molecules in biological systems than can be accounted for by heating effects, sunburn being a well-known example.

These properties derive from ultraviolet's power to alter chemical bonds, even without having quite enough energy to ionize atoms.

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