Radioactive decay and radiometric dating

07-Jun-2016 15:01

According to relativity, time itself can be slowed down.

Everything that experiences time can therefore be given a longer effective lifetime if time is dilated. Traveling at a speed close to the speed of light causes time to slow down significantly, relative to the stationary observer.

It is impossible to predict when an individual radioactive atom will decay.

The half-life of a certain type of atom does not describe the exact amount of time that every single atom experiences before decaying.

Since radioactive decay is a spontaneous event, you may think that the half-life of the decay process is completely fixed and cannot be altered by outside influences. First of all, it is worth pointing out that the time when an individual radioactive atom decays is completely random.For instance, a number of radioactive atoms shot through a tube at high speed in the lab will have their half-life lengthened relative to the lab because of time dilation.This effect has been verified many times using particle accelerators.For such an ion, there are no longer any electrons available to capture, and therefore the half-life of the electron capture radioactive decay mode becomes infinite.

Certain radioactive isotopes that can only decay via the electron capture mode (such as rubidium-83) can be made to never decay by ripping off all the electrons.

Simply by changing the neighboring atoms that are bonded to a radioactive isotope, we can change its half-life.