The technique hinges on carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of the element that, unlike other more stable forms of carbon, decays away at a steady rate.
Organisms capture a certain amount of carbon-14 from the atmosphere when they are alive.
Most people think that radioactive dating has proven the earth is billions of years old.
Yet this view is based on a misunderstanding of how radiometric dating works.
Radioactive rocks offer a similar “clock.” Radioactive atoms, such as uranium (the parent isotopes), decay into stable atoms, such as lead (the daughter isotopes), at a measurable rate.
To date a radioactive rock, geologists first measure the “sand grains” in the top glass bowl (the parent radioisotope, such as uranium-238 or potassium-40).
They also measure the sand grains in the bottom bowl (the daughter isotope, such as lead-206 or argon-40, respectively).
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Part 2 explains how scientists run into problems when they make assumptions about what happened . Climate records from a Japanese lake are set to improve the accuracy of the dating technique, which could help to shed light on archaeological mysteries such as why Neanderthals became extinct.Carbon dating is used to work out the age of organic material — in effect, any living thing.An hourglass is a helpful analogy to explain how geologists calculate the ages of rocks.When we look at sand in an hourglass, we can estimate how much time has passed based on the amount of sand that has fallen to the bottom.