Isotope dating old objects

06-Dec-2017 12:55

We can get absolute ages only if we have rocks from that surface.For others, all we are doing is getting a relative age, using things like the formation of craters and other features on a surface.It is impossible to predict when a given atom will decay, but given a large number of similar atoms, the decay rate on average is predictable.This predictable decay is called the half-life of the parent atom, the time it takes for one half of all of the parent atoms to transform into the daughter.By studying other planets, we are learning more about our own planet.The effects of impacts and how they might affect us here on Earth, global climate change (Venus vs.Once the half life of an isotope and its decay path are known, it is possible to use the radioactive decay for dating the substance (rock) it belongs to, by measuring the amount of parent and daughter contained in the sample.An important point is that we must have an idea of how much of the daughter isotope was in the sample before the decay started.

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We thus have three different isotopes of carbon: Carbon-12 with 6 protons and 6 neutrons in the nucleus, Carbon-13 with 6 protons and 7 neutrons in the nucleus, Carbon-14 with 6 protons and 8 neutrons in the nucleus.So, Carbon-14 can only measure things up to just over 50,000 years old, great for determining when someone built a wood fire, but not good for determining the age of a meteorite. It occurs whenever an atom has an unbalanced number of protons and neutrons in its nucleus.