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Well, scientists are able to answer all of these wondrous questions and more by use of a process called radiometric, or radioactive, dating.

Radioactive dating enables geologists to record the history of the earth and its events, such as the dinosaur era, within what they call the geologic time scale.

If another 4.5 billion years were to pass, then half of the remaining half of uranium-238 would also decay, leaving 25% uranium to 75% lead.

If a scientist were to compute this, he or she would say two half-lives went by at a rate of 4.5 billion years per half-life; therefore, the sample is approximately 2 times 4.5 billion, or 9 billion years old. So you see, earth scientists are able to use the half-lives of isotopes to date materials back to thousands, millions, and even to billions of years old.

An isotope disintegrates at a constant rate called the half-life, or the time it takes for half the atoms of a sample to decay. By counting the number of half-lives and the percentages remaining of parent and daughter isotopes, scientists are able to determine what they call the absolute age of a discovery.

They then count the number of half-lives passed and compute the absolute age of the sample.

Absolute age is just a fancy way of saying definitive or specific age as opposed to the relative age, which only refers to how old or young a substance is in comparison to something else.

The isotope doesn't actually deteriorate; it just changes into something else.

Isotopes decay at a constant rate known as the half-life.

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