There's a small amount of radioactive carbon-14 in all living organisms.
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The different methods of radiometric dating are accurate over different timescales, and they are useful for different materials.
After one half-life has elapsed, one half of the atoms of the nuclide in question will have decayed into a "daughter" nuclide, or decay product.
All rocks and minerals contain long-lived radioactive elements that were incorporated into Earth when the Solar System formed.
These radioactive elements constitute independent clocks that allow geologists to determine the age of the rocks in which they occur.
It is based on a comparison between the observed abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, using known decay rates.
It is the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself, and it can be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.
Part 1 (in the previous issue) explained how scientists observe unstable atoms changing into stable atoms in the present.
Part 2 explains how scientists run into problems when they make assumptions about what happened .
Radioactive rocks offer a similar “clock.” Radioactive atoms, such as uranium (the parent isotopes), decay into stable atoms, such as lead (the daughter isotopes), at a measurable rate.