Scientists measure the proportion of carbon-14 left in the organism to determine its age.
measurement, measuring, mensuration, measure - the act or process of assigning numbers to phenomena according to a rule; "the measurements were carefully done"; "his mental measurings proved remarkably accurate" techniques allowed a team led by Fred Jourdan of Curtin University in Perth to precisely measure the age of the eruptions of the Kalkarindji volcanic province, which saw lava cover an area of more than two million square kilometres in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Carbon, uranium, and potassium are just a few examples of elements used in radioactive dating.
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When an atom varies in the number of neutrons, the variation is called an isotope. During radioactivity, the unstable isotope breaks down and changes into a different substance.
A new, more stable isotope, called the decay, or daughter product, takes its place.
To illustrate, let's use the isotope uranium-238, which has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.
This means that after approximately 4.5 billion years, half of an original sample containing this isotope will decay into its decay product, forming the new isotope, Pb 206 (lead 206).
Well, scientists are able to answer all of these wondrous questions and more by use of a process called radiometric, or radioactive, dating.
Radioactive dating enables geologists to record the history of the earth and its events, such as the dinosaur era, within what they call the geologic time scale.
Continue Reading Relative dating observes the placement of fossils and rock in layers known as strata.