Easy definition of radioactive dating - radioactive dating

Radiocarbon dating also referred to as carbon dating or carbon dating is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties...

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Radiometric dating or radioactive dating is a technique used to date materials such as rocks or carbon , in which trace radioactive impurities were selectively incorporated when they were formed. The method compares the abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope within the material to the abundance of its decay products, which form at a known constant rate of decay. Together with stratigraphic principles , radiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geologic time scale.

By allowing the establishment of geological timescales, it provides a significant source of information about the ages of fossils and the deduced rates of evolutionary change. Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.

Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied. All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements , each with its own atomic number , indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus. Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes , with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus. A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide.

Some nuclides are inherently unstable. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will undergo radioactive decay and spontaneously transform into a different nuclide. This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including alpha decay emission of alpha particles and beta decay electron emission, positron emission, or electron capture.

Another possibility is spontaneous fission into two or more nuclides.

All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements , each with its own atomic number , indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus. The question was resolved by the study of tree rings: These counters record bursts of ionization caused by the beta particles emitted by the decaying 14 C atoms; the bursts are proportional to the energy of the particle, so other sources of ionization, such as background radiation, can be identified and ignored.

Taylor, " 14 C data made a world prehistory possible by contributing a time scale that transcends local, regional and continental boundaries". Research has been ongoing since the s to determine what the proportion of 14 C in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years. They synthesized 14 C using the laboratory's cyclotron accelerator and soon discovered that the atom's half-life was far longer than had been previously thought.

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