# Radioactive dating rates

The number of parent isotopes decreases while the number of daughter isotopes increases but the total of the two added together is a constant.

To measure the passage of long periods of time, scientists take advantage of a regularity in certain unstable atoms.Most of the radioactive isotopes used for radioactive dating of rock samples have too many neutrons in the nucleus to be stable.Recall that an isotope is a particular form of an element.Radioactive dating gives the Find out how many times you need to multiply (1/2) by itself to get the observed fraction of remaining parent material. If some material has been decaying long enough so that only 1/4 of the radioactive material is left, the sample is 2 half-lives old: 1/4 = (1/2) × (1/2), n =2.After 1 half-life, there is 1/2 of the original amount of the parent left.There are several ways to figure out relative ages, that is, if one thing is older than another.For example, looking at a series of layers in the side of a cliff, the younger layers will be on top of the older layers.Carbon-14 dating works well for samples less than about 50,000 to 60,000 years old and for things that were getting their carbon from the air.The long ages (billions of years) given by radioactive dating of rocks seems an impossibly long time for some people.All atoms of an element have the same number of protons in their nucleus and behave the same way in reactions.The atoms of an isotope of a given element have same number of protons AND neutrons in their nucleus.

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