Isotopes are different atoms of the same elements having the same atomic number but a different mass number. Isotopes of radioactive elements are found to be very useful in different fields like carbon dating, agriculture, medicines, the production of synthetic elements, etc. Important uses of radioisotopes are as follows. Estimation of Age of Rock and Bone Samples:.
In this section we will explore the use of carbon dating to determine the age of fossil remains. Carbon is a key element in biologically important molecules. During the lifetime of an organism, carbon is brought into the cell from the environment in the form of either carbon dioxide or carbon-based food molecules such as glucose; then used to build biologically important molecules such as sugars, proteins, fats, and nucleic acids. These molecules are subsequently incorporated into the cells and tissues that make up living things.
Carbon Dating:. Carbon dating is used to determine the age of biological artifacts up to 50, years old. This technique is widely used on recent artifacts, but teachers should note that this technique will not work on older fossils like those of the dinosaurs which are over 65 million years old. This technique is not restricted to bones; it can also be used on cloth, wood and plant fibers.
Applications of radioactive isotopes are varied in several areas of science. It ranges from the field of agriculture to the diagnosis of diseases. Radioisotopes are being widely used in plant nutrition studies and several researches are being conducted in many countries for using radiation sources to preserve certain types of agricultural produce, such as potatoes. However, vital use of radioisotopes is in production of new varieties of plants by radiation-induced genetic changes or by directly stimulating plant growth. Hardier and more disease resistant crops peanuts, tomatoes, onions, rice, soybeans, and barley have been developed using radioactive materials in the agricultural research.