Absolute dating isotopes


Pretty obvious that the dike came after the rocks it cuts through, right?With absolute age dating, you get a real age in actual years.Scientists look at half-life decay rates of radioactive isotopes to estimate when a particular atom might decay.A useful application of half-lives is radioactive dating.Scientists know the half-life of C-14 (5,730 years), so they can figure out how long ago the organism died.

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Absolute age dating is like saying you are 15 years old and your grandfather is 77 years old.It might take a millisecond, or it might take a century. But if you have a large enough sample, a pattern begins to emerge.It takes a certain amount of time for half the atoms in a sample to decay.This has to do with figuring out the age of ancient things.

If you could watch a single atom of a radioactive isotope, U-238, for example, you wouldn’t be able to predict when that particular atom might decay.

It can’t be used to determine the age of a moon rock or a meteorite.