# The process of radioactive dating

The term is also used more generally to characterize any type of exponential or non-exponential decay.For example, the medical sciences refer to the biological half-life of drugs and other chemicals in the human body. The original term, half-life period, dating to Ernest Rutherford's discovery of the principle in 1907, was shortened to half-life in the early 1950s.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.There are various simple exercises that demonstrate probabilistic decay, for example involving flipping coins or running a statistical computer program.

In that case, it does not work to use the definition that states "half-life is the time required for exactly half of the entities to decay".After another 5,730 years, one-quarter of the original will remain.On the other hand, the time it will take a puddle to half-evaporate depends on how deep the puddle is.) is the time required for a quantity to reduce to half its initial value.The term is commonly used in nuclear physics to describe how quickly unstable atoms undergo, or how long stable atoms survive, radioactive decay.

As an example, the radioactive decay of carbon-14 is exponential with a half-life of 5,730 years.

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