Argon isotope dating

So, we start out with two isotopes of uranium that are unstable and radioactive.

They release radiation until they eventually become stable isotopes of lead.

However, rocks and other objects in nature do not give off such obvious clues about how long they have been around.

So, we rely on radiometric dating to calculate their ages.

For example, how do we know that the Iceman, whose frozen body was chipped out of glacial ice in 1991, is 5,300 years old?

Well, we know this because samples of his bones and hair and even his grass boots and leather belongings were subjected to radiocarbon dating.

So, we see there are a number of different methods for dating rocks and other non-living things, but what if our sample is organic in nature?Carbon-14 is continually being created in the atmosphere due to the action of cosmic rays on nitrogen in the air.Carbon-14 combines with oxygen to create carbon dioxide.So, if you know the radioactive isotope found in a substance and the isotope's half-life, you can calculate the age of the substance. Well, a simple explanation is that it is the time required for a quantity to fall to half of its starting value.So, you might say that the 'full-life' of a radioactive isotope ends when it has given off all of its radiation and reaches a point of being non-radioactive.

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