How do scientists use half life in radiometric dating ethics of doctors dating patients
By measuring the ratio of the amount of the original radioactive element to the daughter isotope, scientists can determine how many half-lives the element has undergone and from there can figure out the absolute age of the sample.
The half-lives of several radioactive isotopes are known and are used often to figure out the age of newly found fossils.
Radiometric dating relies on the properties of isotopes.
These are chemical elements, like carbon or uranium, that are identical except for one key feature -- the number of neutrons in their nucleus.
The result is like a radioactive clock that ticks away as unstable isotopes decay into stable ones.
The short half-life is only part of the problem when dating dinosaur bones -- researchers also have to find enough of the parent and daughter atoms to measure.Once all the parents have become daughters, there's no more basis for comparison between the two isotopes.Scientists can't tell whether the clock ran down a few days or millions of years ago.When paleontologist Mary Schweitzer found soft tissue in a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil, her discovery raised an obvious question -- how the tissue could have survived so long?The bone was 68 million years old, and conventional wisdom about fossilization is that all soft tissue, from blood to brains, decomposes.