Carbon dating works on organic matter, all of which contains carbon.
However it is less useful for dating metal or other inorganic objects.
Some isotopes have half lives longer than the present age of the universe, but they are still subject to the same laws of quantum physics and will eventually decay, even if doing so at a time when all remaining atoms in the universe are separated by astronomical distances.
Various elements are used for dating different time periods; ones with relatively short half-lives like carbon-14 (or C) are useful for dating once-living objects (since they include atmospheric carbon from when they were alive) from about ten to fifty thousand years old. Longer-lived isotopes provide dating information for much older times.
Although the time at which any individual atom will decay cannot be forecast, the time in which any given percentage of a sample will decay can be calculated to varying degrees of accuracy.
The time that it takes for half of a sample to decay is known as the half life of the isotope.
YEC biblical literalists are necessarily bound to the dogmatic religions conclusion that the Earth is of a certain age based on a particular literal interpretation of the Genesis creation myth.
The key is to measure an isotope that has had time to decay a measurable amount, but not so much as to only leave a trace remaining.
Given isotopes are useful for dating over a range from a fraction of their half life to about four or five times their half life.
Due to the long half-life of uranium it is not suitable for short time periods, such as most archaeological purposes, but it can date the oldest rocks on earth.
A proper radiometric date should read years before present (with 1950 being present) ± range/2 at x standard deviations (Xσ)', but is often reported as a single year or a year range, like 1260–1390 CE (the date for the Shroud of Turin).