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Scientists estimate that the Earth is about dating rocks and fossils using radioisotopes. To understand how this process works, you need to know a little bit about atoms and isotopes. Often, any one atom has several different forms, called isotopes. Atoms are made up of electrons, protons, and neutrons, and the number of electrons and protons determines the type of atom.

Dating rocks and fossils using radioisotopes, for example, has one electron and one proton. Sometimes, it also has a neutron, in which case it is called deuterium. Heavy water refers to water in which each hydrogen atom has a neutron. Other isotopes are unstable because the different number of neutrons interacts with the other atomic components in such a way that, over voll bekleidet und saugen hahn period of time, the isotope changes into some other atom.

When these unstable isotopes change to a different atom, they emit radioactivity. An important property of radioactive isotopes is the half-life — the time it takes for half of the atoms to undergo the transition from one atom to the other. In the first half-life, half the atoms make the transition.

In the second half-life, half of the remaining atoms transition, leaving one quarter of the original parent material. In the third half-life, half again transition, and so on. To determine the age of material, researchers compare the ratio of the parent and daughter products that were initially in the sample with the ratio of these products at the current time.

By doing so, they can calculate how much time has passed. Numerous radioactive isotopes exist. One system that has been very successful in dating the ages of fossils is potassium-argon dating. Potassium is an extremely common element. Although potassium is a solid, argon is a gas.

When rock is melted think lavaall the argon in the rock escapes, and when the rock solidifies again, only potassium is left.

Dating rocks and fossils using radioisotopes melting of the rock and releasing of any argon set the potassium-argon clock to zero. As time passes, argon accumulates in the rock as a result of radioactive potassium decay.

When scientists date rocks from our planet this way, the oldest dates they find are 4. By dating the lava flows above and below a fossil dating rocks and fossils using radioisotopes, scientists can put exact boundaries on the maximum and minimum age of that fossil.

With radioactive dating, scientists can now get within a few percentage points of the actual date. They know this because they have been able to accurately date lava flows that happened recently enough for their dates to be known historically, such as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius at Pompeii.


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