How radioactive dating works

Over time, radioactive isotopes change into stable isotopes by a process known as radioactive decay.Some radioactive parent isotopes decay almost instantaneously into their stable daughter isotopes; others take billions of years.(The nucleus of an atom is made up of protons and neutrons.) For example, the element carbon, which always has six protons in its nucleus, has three isotopes: one with six neutrons in the nucleus, one with seven, and one with eight.Some isotopes are stable, but some are unstable or radioactive.Note that at time 0, the time of the mineral's formation, the crystal contains only parent atoms.At time 1, 50% of the parent atoms remain; at time 2, only 25% remain, and so on.After one half-life, 50 percent of the original parents remains; after two, only 25 percent remains, and so on.Decay curve of a radioactive element with a half-life equal to one time unit.

The discovery gave scientists a tool for dating rocks that contain radioactive elements.Many elements have naturally occurring isotopes, varieties of the element that have different numbers of neutrons in the nucleus.

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  2. eric   •  

    So, whether you’re years deep in a charmingly fairy tale-esque romance with your beau or you’re just now firing up to dive into your first, here are seven things to remember as a white person involved with a person of color.

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