Explain how radioactive dating works

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The rate of decay (given the symbol λ) is the fraction of the 'parent' atoms that decay in unit time.

For geological purposes, this is taken as one year.

This is a common dating method mainly used by archaeologists, as it can only date geologically recent organic materials, usually charcoal, but also bone and antlers.The relationship between the two is: T = 0.693 / λ Many different radioactive isotopes and techniques are used for dating.All rely on the fact that certain elements (particularly uranium and potassium) contain a number of different isotopes whose half-life is exactly known and therefore the relative concentrations of these isotopes within a rock or mineral can measure the age.Contamination from outside, or the loss of isotopes at any time from the rock's original formation, would change the result.It is therefore essential to have as much information as possible about the material being dated and to check for possible signs of alteration.A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will spontaneously change into a different nuclide by radioactive decay.

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