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Radioactive decay is a natural process and comes from the atomic nucleus becoming unstable and releasing bits and pieces.These are released as radioactive particles (there are many types).This decay process leads to a more balanced nucleus and when the number of protons and neutrons balance, the atom becomes stable.This radioactivity can be used for dating, since a radioactive 'parent' element decays into a stable 'daughter' element at a constant rate.The man's body was recovered and pieces of tissue were studied for their C content by accelerator mass spectroscopy.
A hundred years ago, we had little idea of the story's length—we had no good yardstick for time.The boat of a pharaoh was discovered in a sealed crypt and reassembled in a museum near the pyramids (see Fig. The age of our galaxy and earth also can be estimated using radioactive dating.Using the decays of uranium and thorium, our galaxy has been found to be between 10 and 20 billion years old and the earth has been found to be 4.6 billion years old. Within experimental error, this estimate agrees with the 15 billion year estimate of the age of the Universe.A hundred years ago, our ideas about the ages of rocks and the age of the Earth were vague. Judging from the amount of rocks there are, plus the imperceptible rates of the processes forming them—erosion, burial, fossilization, uplift—the geologic record must represent untold millions of years of time.It is that insight, first expressed in 1785, that made James Hutton the father of geology.
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In terms of the numbers of atoms present, it is as if apples changed spontaneously into oranges at a fixed and known rate.