Different methods of radiometric dating can be used to estimate the age of a variety of natural and even man-made materials.
The methods work because radioactive elements are unstable, and they are always trying to move to a more stable state. This process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by releasing radiation is called radioactive decay.
Here you can discover the power of geological processes.
The technique of comparing the abundance ratio of a radioactive isotope to a reference isotope to determine the age of a material is called 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.
Wiens has a Ph D in Physics, with a minor in Geology.
There are over forty such techniques, each using a different radioactive element or a different way of measuring them.
For centuries people have argued about the age of the Earth; only recently has it been possible to come close to achieving reliable estimates.He is presently employed in the Space & Atmospheric Sciences Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.Radiometric dating--the process of determining the age of rocks from the decay of their radioactive elements--has been in widespread use for over half a century.Perhaps you have heard of Ice Man, a man living in the Alps who died and was entombed in glacial ice until recently when the ice moved and melted.The man's body was recovered and pieces of tissue were studied for their C content by accelerator mass spectroscopy.