Radioactive dating diagram
Most people today think that geologists have proven the earth and its rocks to be billions of years old by their use of the radioactive dating methods. Given so much time, the ‘impossible’ becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain.
Ages of many millions of years for rocks and fossils are glibly presented as fact in many textbooks, the popular media, and museums. One has only to wait: time itself performs the miracles.”1 Yet few people seem to know how these radiometric dating methods work.
These slightly different atoms of the same chemical element are called isotopes of that element.However, while the number of neutrons varies, every atom of any chemical element always has the same number of protons and electrons.So, for example, every carbon atom contains six protons and six electrons, but the number of neutrons in each nucleus can be six, seven, or even eight.Therefore, carbon has three isotopes, which are specified as carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14 (figure 1). Comparison of stable and unstable atoms of the element carbon.They have six protons in their nuclei and six electrons orbiting their nuclei, which gives carbon its chemical properties.It is the number of neutrons in their nuclei that varies, but too many neutrons make the nuclei unstable, as in carbon-14.Some isotopes of some elements are radioactive; that is, they are unstable because their nuclei are too large.To achieve stability, these atoms must make adjustments, particularly in their nuclei.In some cases, the isotopes eject particles, primarily neutrons and protons.(These are the moving particles which constitute the radioactivity measured by Geiger counters and the like.) The end result is stable atoms, but of a numbers of protons and electrons.This process of changing the isotope of one element (designated as the parent) into the isotope of another element (referred to as the daughter) is called radioactive decay.