Fossil dating techniques

Cosmic rays: Invisible, high-energy particles that constantly bombard Earth from all directions in space.Dendrochronology: Also known as tree-ring dating, the science concerned with determining the age of trees by examining their growth rings.Absolute dating methods are used to determine an actual date in years for the age of an object.Before the advent of absolute dating methods in the twentieth century, nearly all dating was relative.Half-life: Measurement of the time it takes for one-half of a radioactive substance to decay.Radioactive decay: The predictable manner in which a population of atoms of a radioactive element spontaneously disintegrate over time.

This method is based on the assumption (which nearly always holds true) that deeper layers of rock were deposited earlier in Earth's history, and thus are older than more shallow layers.In the process of disintegration, the atom gives off radiation (energy emitted in the form of waves). Each element decays at its own rate, unaffected by external physical conditions.By measuring the amount of original and transformed atoms in an object, scientists can determine the age of that object.The time it takes for one-half of the carbon-14 to decay (a period called a half-life) is 5,730 years.By measuring the amount of carbon-14 remaining, scientists can pinpoint the exact date of the organism's death.

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