What is radioactive dating
Elements occur naturally in the earth, and they can tell us a lot about our Earth's past.Carbon, uranium and potassium are just a few examples of elements used in radioactive dating.Radiocarbon dating is one such type of radiometric dating.A process for determining the age of an object by measuring the amount of a given radioactive material it contains.The object's approximate age can then be figured out using the known rate of decay of the isotope.For organic materials, the comparison is between the current ratio of a radioactive isotope to a stable isotope of the same element and the known ratio of the two isotopes in living organisms.If one knows how much of this radioactive material was present initially in the object (by determining how much of the material has decayed), and one knows the half-life of the material, one can deduce the age of the object.Ever wonder how scientists concluded the age of the earth to be about 4.6 billion years old or how geologists determined the ages of caverns, rocks, volcanoes and the Himalayas? Well, scientists are able to answer all of these wondrous questions and more by use of a process called radiometric or radioactive dating.
For inorganic materials, such as rocks containing the radioactive isotope rubidium, the amount of the isotope in the object is compared to the amount of the isotope's decay products (in this case strontium).
Each element is made up of atoms, and within each atom is a central particle called a nucleus.
Within the nucleus, we find neutrons and protons; but for now, let's just focus on the neutrons.
Radioactive dating enables geologists to record the history of the earth and its events, such as the dinosaur era, within what they call the geologic time scale.
Radioactive dating uses the ratios of isotopes and their specific decay products to determine the ages of rocks, fossils and other substances.These neutrons can become unstable, and when they do, they release energy and undergo decay. Radioactivity occurs when the nucleus contains an excess amount of neutrons.