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However, rocks and other objects in nature do not give off such obvious clues about how long they have been around.So, we rely on radiometric dating to calculate their ages.The problem with all radiometric clocks is that their accuracy critically depends on several starting assumptions, which are largely unknowable.To date a specimen by radiometric means, one must first know the starting amount of the parent isotope at the beginning of the specimen's existence.Some isotopes have very long half-lives, measured in billions or even trillions of years.Others have extremely short half-lives, measured in tenths or hundredths of a second.
Elements exist in different isotopes, with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.Free 5-day trial Radiometric dating is used to estimate the age of rocks and other objects based on the fixed decay rate of radioactive isotopes.Learn about half-life and how it is used in different dating methods, such as uranium-lead dating and radiocarbon dating, in this video lesson. As we age, our hair turns gray, our skin wrinkles and our gait slows.Contents: The half-life of a radioactive isotope is defined as the time it takes half of a sample of the element to decay.A mathematical formula can be used to calculate the half-life from the number of breakdowns per second in a sample of the isotope.
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Radiometric dating methods are the strongest direct evidence that geologists have for the age of the Earth.