Once the principle behind this method was discovered, however, it became possible to gather reliable information about the age of Earth and its rocks and fossils.Radioactive dating was not possible until 1896, when the radioactive properties of uranium (a radioactive metallic element) were discovered by French physicist (a person specializing in the study of energy and matter), Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852–1908).
The half-lives of several radioactive isotopes are known and are used often to figure out the age of newly found fossils.Different isotopes have different half-lives and sometimes more than one present isotope can be used to get an even more specific age of a fossil.Ever wonder how scientists concluded the age of the earth to be about 4.6 billion years old or how geologists determined the ages of caverns, rocks, volcanoes and the Himalayas? Well, scientists are able to answer all of these wondrous questions and more by use of a process called radiometric or radioactive dating.Radioactive dating enables geologists to record the history of the earth and its events, such as the dinosaur era, within what they call the geologic time scale.One way that helps scientists place fossils into the correct era on the Geologic Time Scale is by using radiometric dating.
Also called absolute dating, scientists use the decay of radioactive elements within the fossils or the rocks around the fossils to determine the age of the organism that was preserved.
Follow the links below to learn more about radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating uses carbon isotopes A special kind of radiocarbon dating: Bomb radiocarbon dating What is an isotope?
To understand radiocarbon dating, you first have to understand the word Although an element’s number of protons cannot change, the number of neutrons can vary slightly from each atom.
It has given paleontologists (a person specializing in the study of fossils) as well as geologists (a person specializing in the study of the origin, history, and structure of Earth) a powerful way of dating ancient objects.
Until the discovery of radioactive dating, scientists had no way of approximating how old any part of Earth was.
Radioactive dating uses the ratios of isotopes and their specific decay products to determine the ages of rocks, fossils and other substances.