Age dating of rocks

The result is like a radioactive clock that ticks away as unstable isotopes decay into stable ones.You can't predict when a specific unstable atom, or parent, will decay into a stable atom, or daughter.

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Think of the nucleus as a pyramid of building blocks.

If you try to add extra blocks to the sides pyramid, they may stay put for a while, but they'll eventually fall away.

The same is true if you take a block away from one of the pyramid's sides, making the rest unstable.

Eventually, some of the blocks can fall away, leaving a smaller, more stable structure.

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Radiometric dating relies on the properties of isotopes.

These are chemical elements, like carbon or uranium, that are identical except for one key feature -- the number of neutrons in their nucleus.

Atoms may have an equal number of protons and neutrons.

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