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Part 2 explains how scientists run into problems when they make assumptions about what happened .An hourglass is a helpful analogy to explain how geologists calculate the ages of rocks.Thanks to nuclear physics, mass spectrometers have been fine-tuned to separate a rare isotope from an abundant neighboring mass, and accelerator mass spectrometry was born.A method has finally been developed to detect carbon 14 in a given sample and ignore the more abundant isotopes that swamp the carbon 14 signal.Radioactive elements were incorporated into the Earth when the Solar System formed.All rocks and minerals contain tiny amounts of these radioactive elements.A commonly used radiometric dating technique relies on the breakdown of potassium (Ar in an igneous rock can tell us the amount of time that has passed since the rock crystallized.
Although both radiocarbon dating methods produce high-quality results, they are fundamentally different in principle.
Radioactive elements are unstable; they breakdown spontaneously into more stable atoms over time, a process known as radioactive decay.
Radioactive decay occurs at a constant rate, specific to each radioactive isotope.
The atoms of some chemical elements have different forms, called isotopes.
These break down over time in a process scientists call radioactive decay.
Yet this view is based on a misunderstanding of how radiometric dating works.