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As we have mentioned before each radioactive isotope has its own decay pattern.Not only does it decay by giving off energy and matter, but it also decays at a rate that is characteristic to itself.

Half-lives for various radioisotopes can range from a few microseconds to billions of years.

See the table below for a list of radioisotopes and each of unique their half-lives. After 86 minutes, half of the atoms in the sample would have decayed into another element, Lanthanum-139.

Let's look closely at how the half-life affects an isotope. Therefore, after one half-life, you would have 5 grams of Barium-139, and 5 grams of Lanthanum-139.

After another 86 minutes, half of the 5 grams of Barium-139 would decay into Lanthanum-139; you would now have 2.5 grams of Barium-139 and 7.5 grams of Lanthanum-139.

The half-lives of certain types of radioisotopes are very useful to know.

They allow us to determine the ages of very old artifacts.

Scientists can use the half-life of Carbon-14 to determine the approximate age of organic objects less than 40,000 years old.

By determining how much of the carbon-14 has transmutated, scientist can calculate and estimate the age of a substance. Isotopes with longer half-lives such as Uranium-238 can be used to date even older objects.

In the field of nondestructive testing radiographers (people who produce radiographs to inspect objects) also use half-life information.

A radiographer who works with radioisotopes needs to know the specific half-life to properly determine how much radiation the source in the camera is producing so that the film can be exposed properly.

After one half-life of a given radioisotope, only one half as much of the original number of atoms remains active.

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