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    Radioactive isotope used in geological dating

    Fossils are collected along with rocks that occur from the same strata.These samples are carefully cataloged and analyzed with a mass spectrometer.The original atom is referred to as the parent and the following decay products are referred to as the daughter.For example: after the it forms a component of all organic compounds and is therefore fundamental to life. Libby of the University of Chicago predicted the existence of carbon-14 before it was actually detected and formulated a hypothesis that radiocarbon might exist in living matter.The mass spectrometer is able to give information about the type and amount of isotopes found in the rock.

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    For the first time he was able to exactly measure the age of a uranium mineral.

    To see how we actually use this information to date rocks, consider the following: Usually, we know the amount, N, of an isotope present today, and the amount of a daughter element produced by decay, D*.

    By definition, D* = N-1) (2) Now we can calculate the age if we know the number of daughter atoms produced by decay, D* and the number of parent atoms now present, N.

    Shortly after Becquerel's find, Marie Curie, a French chemist, isolated another highly radioactive element, .

    The realisation that radioactive materials emit rays indicated a constant change of those materials from one element to another.

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