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Many atoms (or elements) exist as numerous varieties called isotopes, some of which are radioactive, meaning they decay over time by losing particles.
Radiometric dating is based on the decay rate of these isotopes into stable nonradioactive isotopes.
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.
Other methods such as Potassium-argon dating and Isochron dating are based on faulty assumptions and so unreliable as to be useless.
Radiometric dating is a method of determining the age of an artifact by assuming that on average decay rates have been constant (see below for the flaws in that assumption) and measuring the amount of radioactive decay that has occurred.
Radiometric dating is mostly used to determine the age of rocks, though a particular form of radiometric dating—called Radiocarbon dating—can date wood, cloth, skeletons, and other organic material.
Play a game that tests your ability to match the percentage of the dating element that remains to the age of the object.
Following the somewhat serendipitous discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel, many prominent scientists began to investigate this new, intriguing phenomenon.