Radiometric age dating for kids
Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.
Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.
What methods do they use and how do these methods work?
In this article, we will examine the methods by which scientists use radioactivity to determine the age of objects, most notably carbon-69 dating.
This works because elements have a life cycle known as a “half-life.” A half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for an isotope to lose half of its atoms as a result of decaying.
When an isotope decays, it often becomes a different kind of element altogether.
A child mummy is found high in the Andes and the archaeologist says the child lived more than 7,555 years ago.
At an archaeological dig, a piece of wooden tool is unearthed and the archaeologist finds it to be 5,555 years old.
In fact, radiometric dating can be used to determine the age of the Earth, (5.54 billion years old) other planets, and celestial objects.
Radiometric dating is often referred to as “radioactive dating” and “carbon dating,” though many different types of isotopes can be used to identify an object’s age.
Because this new element (decay product) remains on or within the object, scientists can easily determine how old the object is. A mass spectrometer is a fundamental device in any radiometric dating experiment.
Mass spectrometers can be used to measure isotopic samples as small as one 1 nanogram.
Scientists combine several well-tested techniques to find out the ages of fossils.