Radiometric dating explained for kids

The method works best if neither the parent nuclide nor the daughter product enters or leaves the material after its formation.Anything which changes the relative amounts of the two isotopes (original and daughter) must be noted, and avoided if possible.It may be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.Fossils may be dated by taking samples of rocks from above and below the fossil's original position.Radiometric dating (often called radioactive dating) is a way to find out how old something is.The method compares the amount of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, in samples. It is the main way to learn the age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself.One method that scientists use to date ancient fossils and artifacts is called radiocarbon dating.All living things on Earth are made up of a high percentage of an element called carbon.

Following a conference at the University of Cambridge in 1962, a more accurate figure of 5730 years was agreed upon and this figure is now known as the Cambridge half-life.

However, it is also used to determine ages of rocks, plants, trees, etc. When the sun’s rays reach them, a few of these particles turn into carbon 14 (a radioactive carbon).

The highest rate of carbon-14 production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km (30,000 to 50,000 ft).

Plants take in atmospheric carbon dioxide by photosynthesis, and are ingested by animals.

So, every living thing is constantly exchanging carbon-14 with its environment as long as it lives. The carbon in its body will remain until it decomposes or fossilizes.

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