Radioactive dating time change dating frequency of contact

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When it comes to determining the age of stuff scientists dig out of the ground, whether fossil or artifact, “there are good dates and bad dates and ugly dates,” says paleoanthropologist John Shea of Stony Brook University.

The good dates are confirmed using at least two different methods, ideally involving multiple independent labs for each method to cross-check results.

Some elements take longer, and others have a decay that happens over a period of minutes.

Archeologists are able to use their knowledge of radioactive decay when they need to know the date of an object they dug up.

This family of dating methods, some more than a century old, takes advantage of the environment’s natural radioactivity.Sometimes only one method is possible, reducing the confidence researchers have in the results. “They’re based on ‘it’s that old because I say so,’ a popular approach by some of my older colleagues,” says Shea, laughing, “though I find I like it myself as I get more gray hair.” Kidding aside, dating a find is crucial for understanding its significance and relation to other fossils or artifacts.Methods fall into one of two categories: relative or absolute. If you have looked at a periodic table, you may have noticed that the atomic mass of an element is rarely an even number. If you are an atom with an extra electron, it's no big deal. As you learn more about chemistry, you will probably hear about carbon-14. C-14 is considered an isotope of the element carbon.

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