Irma Valenzuela, 37 years old
If you want to know how old someone or something is, you can generally rely on some combination of simply asking questions or Googling to arrive at an accurate answer. This applies to everything from the age of a classmate to the number of years the United States has existed as a sovereign nation and counting as of But what about the ages of objects of antiquity, from a newly discovered fossil to the very age of the Earth itself? Sure, you can scour the Internet and learn rather quickly that the scientific consensus pins the age of of the planet at about 4. But Google didn't invent this number; how is radiometric dating used to date fossils, human ingenuity and applied physics have provided it.
Radioactive dating uses the decay rates of radioactive substances to measure absolute ages of rocks, minerals and carbon-based substances, according to How Stuff Works. Scientists know how quickly radioactive isotopes decay into other elements over thousands, millions and even billions of years. Scientists calculate ages by measuring how much of the isotope remains in the substance. How is radiometric dating used to date fossils key to an age of a substance is the decay-product ratio. The ratio of the original isotope and its decay product determines how many half-lives have occurred since the sample formed. A half-life measures the time it takes for one half of a radio isotope's atoms to break down into another element. For instance, if an object has 50 percent of its decay product, it has been through one half-life. A popular way to determine the ages of biological substances no more than 50, years old is to measure the decay of carbon into nitrogen
Many rocks and organisms contain radioactive isotopes, such as U and C These radioactive isotopes are unstable, decaying over time at a predictable rate. As the isotopes decay, they give off particles from their nucleus and become a different isotope. The parent isotope is the original unstable isotope, and daughter isotopes are the stable product of the decay. Half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of the parent isotopes to decay. The decay occurs on a logarithmic scale.
How is radiometric dating used to date fossils
More about how is radiometric dating used to date fossils:
When paleontologist Mary Schweitzer found soft tissue in a Tyrannosaurus rex fossilher discovery raised an obvious question -- how the tissue could have survived so long? The bone was 68 million years old, and conventional wisdom how is radiometric dating used to date fossils fossilization is that all soft tissue, from blood to brainsdecomposes. Only hard parts, like bones and teeth, can become fossils. But for some people, the discovery raised a different question. How do scientists know the bones are really 68 million years old?
Geologists use radiometric dating to estimate how long ago rocks formed, and to infer the ages of fossils contained within those rocks. Radioactive elements decay 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. Afterwards, they decay at how is radiometric dating used to date fossils predictable rate. 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. Sedimentary rocks can be dated using radioactive carbon, but because carbon decays relatively quickly, this only works for rocks younger than about 50 thousand years. So in order to date most older fossils, scientists look for layers of igneous rock or volcanic ash above and below the fossil. Scientists date igneous rock using elements that are slow to decay, such as uranium and potassium.
Carbon, Radiometric Dating and Index Fossils. Carbon dating is used to determine the age of biological artifacts up to 50, years old. This technique is widely used on recent artifacts, but educators and students alike should note that this technique will not work on older fossils like those of the dinosaurs alleged to be millions of years old. This technique is not restricted to bones; it can also be used on cloth, wood and plant fibers. Carbon dating has been used successfully on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Minoan ruins and tombs of the pharaohs among other things.