Relative dating and numerical dating
As water freezes and each molecule falls into place, atoms that don’t fit in the forming ice crystal are excluded. For example, zircon (a crystal) is perfectly happy to incorporate uranium, but excludes lead.Impurities, such as dissolved air, are either forced out or concentrated in the last region to freeze. It so happens that uranium decays into lead with a half-life of 4.5 billion years.Carbon-14 is continuously generated in the upper atmosphere when stray neutrons bombard atmospheric nitrogen (which is what most of the atmosphere is).The reason carbon dating works is that the fresh carbon-14 gets mixed in with the rest of the carbon in the atmosphere and, since it’s chemically identical to regular carbon, gets worked into whatever is presently absorbing atmospheric carbon.There are many different kinds of radiometric dating that are used to date things that are non-organic (which is part of how we determine the age of the Earth).They each rely on a couple of different (thoroughly verified) principles.In particular: plants, things that eat plants, things that eat things that eat plants, and breatharians.
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Not being made of carbon, we can’t carbon date them.
Fortunately, the stuff ancient civilization leave lying around tend to be found in clumps called “middens”.
First, that radioactive isotopes have a fixed half-life (totally independent of their environment).
And second, that the elements they were before and after the radioactive decay have different chemical properties. If an atom doesn’t interact chemically in the right way, then it won’t be incorporated into a forming crystal.
Carbon dating is the most famous form of “radiometric dating”.