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Half-life is constant over the lifetime of an exponentially decaying quantity, and it is a characteristic unit for the exponential decay equation.
The accompanying table shows the reduction of a quantity as a function of the number of half-lives elapsed.
However, unlike in an exponential decay, the half-life depends on the initial quantity, and the prospective half-life will change over time as the quantity decays.
As an example, the radioactive decay of carbon-14 is exponential with a half-life of 5,730 years.
In that case, it does not work to use the definition that states "half-life is the time required for exactly half of the entities to decay".
For example, if there is just one radioactive atom, and its half-life is one second, there will not be "half of an atom" left after one second.
The term is commonly used in nuclear physics to describe how quickly unstable atoms undergo, or how long stable atoms survive, radioactive decay.
The term is also used more generally to characterize any type of exponential or non-exponential decay.
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A quantity of carbon-14 will decay to half of its original amount (on average) after 5,730 years, regardless of how big or small the original quantity was.