### radioactive dating

**(radiometric dating)**
(determining the age of a substance that has a radioactive component)

**Radioactive dating** (or **radiometric dating**)
is determining a past date using the
rate of radioactive decay of one or more of a material's components.
The rate of decay of various nuclides is well known, so
ratios of **parent nuclides** and **daughter nuclides** (the decay's
decaying nuclide and the resulting nuclide) over time are clear.
If the ratio at the time of some past event can be deduced,
the time interval from that event to the present can be calculated.

**Carbon-dating** uses the ratio of two isotopes of carbon: the
radioactive isotope (**carbon-14**) is constantly generated by
cosmic rays striking the upper atmosphere, which is
incorporated into living beings throughout their life, but after which
the amount of carbon-14 is continually falling from the
ratio present in the atmosphere.
The ratio in the atmosphere is roughly constant (with some
recent changes due to technology) and its history going back thousands
of years has been established through analysis of the carbon
isotope ratios found in tree rings.

Rocks generally form as temperatures drop to the point that
the material solidifies. The initial ratio of the daughter isotope
with other isotopes of the same element at the time of the cooling
can be deduced by comparing multiple compounds in a rock that each
has a different ratio of the elements. Two such compounds with
different ratios is sufficient to pinpoint the age, and three or
more offer independent checks. Compounds that solidify at different
temperatures can offer information on multiple heating/cooling
events, i.e., additional history.

Carbon dating is used to date objects going back thousands of years,
often man-made objects. Dating with minerals include slowly-decaying
materials that offer dating to billions of years, and the dating
of various material including lunar rocks, meteorites, and Earth
rocks consistently point to an age of the Earth and solar system
as in the range of 4 to 5 billion years, with 4.568 billion years
a cited number.

(*physics,radioactivity*)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiometric_dating

**Referenced by:**

late heavy bombardment (LHB)

radioactive decay

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