Radio active rock dating

The object's approximate age can then be figured out using the known rate of decay of the isotope.

Radiocarbon dating is one kind of radiometric dating, used for determining the age of organic remains that are less than 50,000 years old.

Using fossils as guides, they began to piece together a crude history of Earth, but it was an imperfect history.

After all, the ever-changing Earth rarely left a complete geological record.

For organic materials, the comparison is between the current ratio of a radioactive isotope to a stable isotope of the same element and the known ratio of the two isotopes in living organisms.

Radiocarbon dating is one such type of radiometric dating.

The age of the planet, though, was important to Charles Darwin and other evolutionary theorists: The biological evidence they were collecting showed that nature needed vastly more time than previously thought to sculpt the world.

This rate of decay is constant for a given isotope, and the time it takes for one-half of a particular isotope to decay is its radioactive half-life.Geologist Ralph Harvey and historian Mott Greene explain the principles of radiometric dating and its application in determining the age of Earth.As the uranium in rocks decays, it emits subatomic particles and turns into lead at a constant rate.Fossils, as well as minerals and rocks, may be dated by helium dating.The relatively large amount of helium produced in rocks may make it possible to extend helium dating to rocks and minerals as young as a few tens of thousands of years old.

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Scientists discovered that rocks could be timepieces -- literally.

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