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Radio decay dating

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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.

The only way that this can happen is by changing the number of protons in the nucleus (an element is defined by its number of protons).Based on our study of meteorites and rocks from the Moon, as well as modeling the formation of planets, it is believed (pretty much well-established) that all of the objects in the Solar System formed very quickly about 4.56 billion years ago.When we age date a planet, we are actually just dating the age of the surface, not the whole planet.The time necessary for half of any given amount of one element (the “parent element”) to decay to become another element (the “daughter element”) is called the element’s “half-life.” Ice cores, for example, contain data about Earth’s past climate.Geologists use a dating technique called K-Ar geochronology to find the age of layers of volcanic ash in ice cores. By measuring the ratio of K to Ar in feldspar crystals in volcanic ash, geologists can determine the time of the eruption and, thus, the age of ice in which the ash is found. Heating causes the kernels to begin popping, thereby starting your simulated “radioactive decay clock” and producing popped “daughter” popcorns.The biggest assumption is that, to first order, the number of asteroids and comets hitting the Earth and the Moon was the same as for Mercury, Venus, and Mars. The bottom line is that the more craters one sees, the older the surface is.