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Radiometric dating methods accuracy

radiometric dating methods accuracy-6

C14 is continually being created and decaying, leading to an equilibrium state in the atmosphere.

The decay of uranium-238, which has a half-life of nearly 4.5 billion years, enabled geologists to determine the age of the Earth.So, we have a “clock” which starts ticking the moment something dies.Obviously, this works only for things which were once living.Early geologists, in the 1700s and 1800s, noticed how fossils seemed to occur in sequences: certain assemblages of fossils were always found below other assemblages. Since 1859, paleontologists, or fossil experts, have searched the world for fossils.In the past 150 years they have not found any fossils that Darwin would not have expected.Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods.

Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.

Atoms of radioactive isotopes are unstable and decay over time by shooting off particles at a fixed rate, transmuting the material into a more stable substance.

For instance, half the mass of carbon-14, an unstable isotope of carbon, will decay into nitrogen-14 over a period of 5,730 years.

Radiometric dating is the method for establishing the age of objects by measuring the levels of radioisotopes in the sample. It decays to nitrogen 14 with a half life of 5730 years.

Carbon 14 is created by cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere.

Familiar to us as the black substance in charred wood, as diamonds, and the graphite in “lead” pencils, carbon comes in several forms, or isotopes.