Nuclear dating methods

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The man's body was recovered and pieces of tissue were studied for their C content by accelerator mass spectroscopy.

The best estimate from this dating technique says the man lived between 33 BC. From the ratio, the time since the formation of the rock can be calculated.

When I have asked an audience this question they have looked at me incredulously and said, “Starting time?

” They realize that you cannot know how long the swimmer took unless you knew the time on the wristwatch when the race started.

Radioactive dating is a method of dating rocks and minerals using radioactive isotopes.

This method is useful for igneous and metamorphic rocks, which cannot be dated by the stratigraphic correlation method used for sedimentary rocks. Some do not change with time and form stable isotopes (i.e.

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This radioactivity can be used for dating, since a radioactive 'parent' element decays into a stable 'daughter' element at a constant rate.

Many people assume that the dates scientists quote of millions of years are as reliable as our knowledge of the structure of the atom or nuclear power.

And radioactive dating is so shrouded with mystery that many don’t even try to understand how the method works; they just believe it must be right.

The rate of decay (given the symbol λ) is the fraction of the 'parent' atoms that decay in unit time.

For geological purposes, this is taken as one year.

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