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By comparing the amount of C14 in an object to the amount of N14 in it we can determine how long it has been decaying for, and therefore when the organism died. Through decay Uranium-238 turns into stable Lead-206.
Carbon-14, the radioactive isotope of carbon used in carbon dating has a half-life of 5730 years, so it decays too fast.
It can only be used to date fossils younger than about 75,000 years.
We define the rate of this radioactive decay in half-lives.
If a radioactive isotope is said to have a half-life of 5,000 years that means after 5,000 years exactly half of it will have decayed from the parent isotope into the daughter isotopes.