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Technology is essential to science, because it provides instruments and techniques that enable observations of objects and phenomena that are otherwise unobservable due to factors such as quantity, distance, location, size, and speed.
Technology also provides tools for investigations, inquiry, and analysis.
In the third half-life, half again transition, and so on.
To determine the age of material, researchers compare the ratio of the parent and daughter products that were initially in the sample with the ratio of these products at the current time.
By doing so, they can calculate how much time has passed. One system that has been very successful in dating the ages of fossils is potassium-argon dating. Although most potassium isotopes aren’t radioactive, one of them is, and one of its decay products is the gas argon. When rock is melted (think lava), all the argon in the rock escapes, and when the rock solidifies again, only potassium is left.
The melting of the rock and releasing of any argon set the potassium-argon clock to zero.
The activity uses the basic principle of radioactive half-life, and is a good follow-up lesson after the students have learned about half-life properties.
Often, any one atom has several different forms, called isotopes.
Atoms are made up of electrons, protons, and neutrons, and the number of electrons and protons determines the type of atom.
In the first half-life, half the atoms make the transition.
In the second half-life, half of the remaining atoms transition, leaving one quarter of the original parent material.
Scientists estimate that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, based on radioisotope dating techniques.