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Della Dumbaugh, professor of mathematics, uses Carbon, Element 6, to teach the Calculus concept of Differential Equations.

“One of the most powerful tools students learn in Calculus is a ‘Differential Equation,’” said Dumbaugh. "These equations include a derivative and a derivative measures change. The key word for change in Calculus is 'rate.'"

An important differential equation models exponential decay, and, in particular, exponential decay that involves Carbon-14, which has a half-life of 5730 years.

"The long half-life of Carbon -14 makes it an excellent tool to measure the age of a very old object. We can use Carbon-14 exponential decay models to measure the age of, say, the items in King Tut’s tomb. The model can also be used to date a Monet or a Vermeer, although the older the painting the better," said Dumbaugh.


Contact Sunni Brown, assistant director of media and public relations, to connect with Della Dumbaugh today.