Unstable nuclei decay. However, some nuclides decay faster than others. For example, radium and polonium, discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie, decay faster than uranium.
Radiometric dating is a means of determining the "age" of a mineral specimen by determining the relative amounts present of certain radioactive elements. By "age" we mean the elapsed time from when the mineral specimen was formed. Radioactive elements "decay" that is, change into other elements by "half lives.
During natural radioactive decay, not all atoms of an element are instantaneously changed to atoms of another element. The decay process takes time and there is value in being able to express the rate at which a process occurs. Half-lives can be calculated from measurements on the change in mass of a nuclide and the time it takes to occur.
Geological time scale — 4. Geological maps. Absolute age dating deals with assigning actual dates in years before the present to geological events.
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Since the early twentieth century scientists have found ways to accurately measure geological time. The discovery of radioactivity in uranium by the French physicist, Henri Becquerelin paved the way of measuring absolute time. Shortly after Becquerel's find, Marie Curiea French chemist, isolated another highly radioactive element, radium.
In this activity, students gain a better understanding of radioactive dating and half-lives. Parent isotopes are represented by the M side up radioactive. Daughter isotopes are represented by the M side down stable. They then set aside stable isotopes
Scientists look at half-life decay rates of radioactive isotopes to estimate when a particular atom might decay. A useful application of half-lives is radioactive dating. This has to do with figuring out the age of ancient things.