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Which of these does a better job of describing my age? So, in both geology and paleontology, we want to be able to point to an object and say exactly how old it is.
To do that, we have to learn a little bit about radioactive decay.
Along the way, we'll learn how stratigraphic succession and radioactive decay contribute to the work of paleontologists.
Consider the following scenario: Paul the Paleontologist is a very famous scientist who has studied dinosaur bones all over the world.
Scientists piece together a story of how one event came before or after another.
Relative dating cannot tell us the actual age of a rock; it can only tell us whether one rock is older or younger than another.
In 1905, Ernest Rutherford figured out that we could use radiation to establish the ages of rocks.
By studying how the mass of uranium changed with radioactive decay, Rutherford was able to determine the age of a rock containing a uranium mineral. It meant that scientists could suddenly establish the actual ages of all their rocks and fossils!
When they find a section of rock that has a lot of different strata, they can assume that the bottom-most layer is the oldest and the top-most layer is the youngest.But really, how do scientists figure out how old their dinosaur bones are?And, what about other findings like fossil fish, plants and insects?Scientists are always spouting information about the ages of rocks and fossils. Well, they figure it out using two different methods: relative dating and numerical dating.Let's find out more about these geological dating methods in order to understand how Paul the Paleontologist can be so sure about the age of his dinosaur fossils.
The first method that scientists use to determine the age of rocks is relative dating.