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Radioactive dating

Compare and contrast relative age dating with radiometric dating. What are the strengths and limitations (if any) of each?

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Compare and contrast relative age dating with radiometric dating. What are the strengths and limitations (if any) of each?

We first need to understand how radioactive dating is measured. Carbon has unique properties that are essential for life on Earth. One form of carbon has atoms that are 14 times as heavy as hydrogen atoms: Carbon-14, or radiocarbon. Carbon-14 is made when cosmic rays knock neutrons out of atomic nuclei in the upper atmosphere. These displaced neutrons, now moving fast, hit ordinary nitrogen (N-14) at lower altitudes, converting it into C-14. C-14 is unstable and slowly decays, changing back into nitrogen and releasing energy. This instability makes it radioactive. Ordinary carbon (C-12) is in carbon dioxide (CO), which is taken up by plants, then eaten by animals. %This is why a bone, leaf or wood has carbon. When C-14 is formed it too combines ordinary carbon (C-12) and with oxygen to give carbon dioxide, therefore, gets cycled through the cells of plants and animals.

We can take a sample of air, count how many C-12 atoms there are for every ...

Solution Summary

Discussion of how radioactive measuring is done. List pros and cons of its accuracy.

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