# Radioactive isotope used for radiometric dating Strapon dating site

It turns out that the half-life of cobalt-60 is about 5.27 years.That means if I start out with 16 cobalt-60 atoms, and I wait 5.27 years, I will probably be left with eight cobalt-60 atoms and eight nickel-60 atoms.

After watching this lesson, you should be able to: Did you know…

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In this lesson, we are going to focus on the half-life, a way of measuring the probability that a particle will react.

Imagine you're getting settled in to watch the new action film at your local theater.

Again, after 30 seconds have passed, dump your coins on a table and remove all the 'heads.' Write down how many remain, and continue this process until all your coins have 'decayed.' Notice at the end how you can never have half of a coin, so when you're down to just one or two coins, you can see the probabilistic nature of them decaying.

You may end up shaking one coin for many 30-second half-lives because it just won't decay!

Your popcorn had a half-life of 15 minutes, meaning that every 15 minutes, half of it will get eaten. Cobalt-60 decays down to nickel-60 during beta decay.

Just like your popcorn, radioactive particles have half-lives. But how do we know when the cobalt-60 atoms are going to decay? Initially it may seem like atoms decay randomly, but their probability of decaying can be predicted using an atom's half-life.

Then, if I wait 5.27 more years, half of the eight cobalt-60 atoms that were left should decay, giving me only four cobalt-60 atoms and a total of 12 nickel-60 atoms.

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