# Use of radiometric dating

Uranium-238 contains 92 protons and 146 neutrons, while uranium-235 contains 92 protons and 143 neutrons.

To keep it short, a nuclide is usually written using the elements abbreviation.

Thus, an atom of carbon-14 (C14), atomic number 6, emits a beta particle and becomes an atom of nitrogen-14 (N14), atomic number 7.

A third, very rare type of radioactive decay is called electron absorption.

The decay rate and therefore the half-life are fixed characteristics of a nuclide. Thats the first axiom of radiometric dating techniques: the half-life of a given nuclide is a constant.

(Note that this doesnt mean the half-life of an element is a constant.

I found several good sources, but none that seemed both complete enough to stand alone and simple enough for a What is radiometric dating?

Simply stated, radiometric dating is a way of determining the age of a sample of material using the decay rates of radio-active nuclides to provide a 'clock.' It relies on three basic rules, plus a couple of critical assumptions.

A mathematical formula can be used to calculate the half-life from the number of breakdowns per second in a sample of the nuclide.The rules are the same in all cases; the assumptions are different for each method.To explain those rules, I'll need to talk about some basic atomic physics. Hydrogen-1's nucleus consists of only a single proton.Different nuclides of the same element can have substantially different half-lives.) billion years old.So, if we know how much of the nuclide was originally present, and how much there is now, we can easily calculate how long it would take for the missing amount to decay, and therefore how long its been since that particular sample was formed. We must know the original quantity of the parent nuclide in order to date our sample In order to do so, we need a nuclide thats part of a mineral compound. Because theres a basic law of chemistry that says "Chemical processes like those that form minerals cannot distinguish between different nuclides of the same element." They simply cant do it.

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