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To understand this, you must first understand radioactivity and decay.When an element undergoes radioactive decay, it creates radiation and turns into some other element.Once an organism dies, it stops taking in carbon-14.The carbon-14 it contained at the time of death decays over a long period of time, and the radioactivity of the material decreases.The Wheeler Formation has been previously dated to approximately 507 million year old, so we know the trilobite is also about 507 million years old.But, how can we determine how old a rock formation is, if it hasn’t previously been dated?Later called Ötzi the Iceman, small samples from his body were carbon dated by scientists.
It’s often much easier to date volcanic rocks than the fossils themselves or the sedimentary rocks they are found in.Count the remaining objects and repeat the process until half of them have decayed. It took a while, but we finally got pretty close to 40 tiles left.This is called the half-life—the amount of time required for one-half of a given number of atoms to disintegrate. The plot of the number of tiles as a function of the number of turns looks like this: Again, I made radioactive spheres disappear when they decayed.Scientists can use certain types of fossils referred to as index fossils to assist in relative dating via correlation.Index fossils are fossils that are known to only occur within a very specific age range.
The amount of carbon-14 in the air has stayed the same for thousands of years.