However, although 5730 years is the correct half-life, it is not the one used for most C-14 dating, simply because the original half-life used to determine dates back in the 1950s was wrong, and to be consistent we still tend to use the wrong value (a bit like the direction of current flow in electronics, which is the opposite of that which the electrons take, but was the original and incorrect assumption).
The practical range for dating is in the order of a few hundred to about 40,000 years BP.
The radioactive isotope Carbon 14 has a half-life of 5,730 years.
This has made it useful for measuring prehistory and events occurring within the past 35 to 50 thousand years.
However, the error range increases drastically once you pass 50,000 years.
We usually hear of Carbon 14 dating, which is very important in archaeology.These unstable atoms tend to "decay" into stable ones; they do this by emitting a particle or particles. The time it takes for half of a given amount of a radioactive element to decay into a stable one is what is known as the "half-life".By matching the proportion of original unstable isotope to stable decay product, and knowing the half-life of that element, one can thus deduce the age of the rock, as shown in the following diagram.The extra neutrons sometimes makes that particular isotope. But for larger atoms all of their isotopes are radioactive -- like uranium.The isotopes 'decay' into a different substance by 3 methods ...With the discovery of radiometric dating, it became possible for the first time to attempt precise figures.Radiometric dating works on the principle that certain atoms and isotopes are unstable.to make it simple on you the difference is an isotope is stable.a a radioactive isotope is not stable and usually has a half life. Like Carbon-12 6protons and 6 neutrons and Carbon-14 6protons and 8neutrons.What is usually done is a comparison of the amount of a radioactive element with the amount of the element it decays into.so geological dating is usually done by looking for pairs of elements bound in the rocks.