Definition radiometric dating

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A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will undergo radioactive decay and spontaneously transform into a different nuclide.

This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including alpha decay (emission of alpha particles) and beta decay (electron emission, positron emission, or electron capture).

If one knows how much of this radioactive material was present initially in the object (by determining how much of the material has decayed), and one knows the half-life of the material, one can deduce the age of the object.After one half-life has elapsed, one half of the atoms of the nuclide in question will have decayed into a "daughter" nuclide or decay product.In many cases, the daughter nuclide itself is radioactive, resulting in a decay chain, eventually ending with the formation of a stable (nonradioactive) daughter nuclide; each step in such a chain is characterized by a distinct half-life.Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.

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