Scientific definition of radioactive dating

other isotope pairs cover intermediate time periods between the spans for carbon 14 and uranium.

When the carbon dioxide, containing C14 as well as stable C12 and C13, is taken in by plants it is no longer exposed to the intense cosmic ray bombardment in the upper atmosphere, so the carbon 14 isotope decays without being replenished.Measuring the ratio of C14 to C12 and C13 therefore dates the organic matter for periods back to about eight half-lives of the isotope, 45,000 years.After a long enough time the minority isotope is in an amount too small to be measured.Then Richard Leakey found a skull (called KNM-ER 1470) the KBS tuff, a skull that looked far too modern to be 3 million years old.So Curtis and others redated the KBS tuff using selected pumice and feldspar samples, and obtained an age of 1.82 million years.

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