Define isotopic dating dating laurie palanza

Part 1 (in the previous issue) explained how scientists observe unstable atoms changing into stable atoms in the present.

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The universe is full of naturally occurring radioactive elements.

Radioactive atoms are inherently unstable; over time, radioactive "parent atoms" decay into stable "daughter atoms." When molten rock cools, forming what are called igneous rocks, radioactive atoms are trapped inside. By measuring the quantity of unstable atoms left in a rock and comparing it to the quantity of stable daughter atoms in the rock, scientists can estimate the amount of time that has passed since that rock formed.

Radioactive rocks offer a similar “clock.” Radioactive atoms, such as uranium (the parent isotopes), decay into stable atoms, such as lead (the daughter isotopes), at a measurable rate.

To date a radioactive rock, geologists first measure the “sand grains” in the top glass bowl (the parent radioisotope, such as uranium-238 or potassium-40).

Most people think that radioactive dating has proven the earth is billions of years old.

Yet this view is based on a misunderstanding of how radiometric dating works.

For example, uranium-lead experiments are often conducted on older, inorganic objects because uranium-lead conversions have a much longer half-life than other isotopes.

However, Carbon-14 tests are conducted on relatively young, organic objects because organisms only replenish Carbon-14 while they are alive.

By using Carbon-14 tests, scientists can calculate how long it has been since the organism died.

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