Radioactive isotopes are often used in scientific and medical fields.
Three important uses of radioactive isotopes are to treat certain types of cancer, sterilization, and to test toxic lead in paint. Two of the most common include carbon dating to discover how old fossils and other historical organic (including carbon) artifacts are and uses of radioactive isotopes in medicine. Isotopes are used as tracers in many medical settings.
There are three principal techniques used to measure carbon 14 content of any given sample— gas proportional counting, liquid scintillation counting, and accelerator mass spectrometry.
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By knowing how much carbon 14 is left in a sample, the age of the organism when it died can be known.
It must be noted though that radiocarbon dating results indicate when the organism was alive but not when a material from that organism was used.
Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is a modern radiocarbon dating method that is considered to be the more efficient way to measure radiocarbon content of a sample.