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In alpha decay, the radioactive atom emits an alpha particle.An alpha particle contains two protons and two neutrons.Thats the essence of radiometric dating: measure the amount thats present, calculate how much is missing, and Obviously, the major question here is "how much of the nuclide was originally present in our sample? If an element has more than one nuclide present, and a mineral forms in a magma melt that includes that element, the elements different nuclides will appear in the mineral in precisely the same ratio that they occurred in the environment where and when the mineral was formed. The third and final axiom is that when an atom undergoes radioactive decay, its internal structure and also its chemical behavior change.Losing or gaining atomic number puts the atom in a different row of the periodic table, and elements in different rows behave in different ways. C14 is radioactive, with a half-life of 5730 years.Thus, an atom of carbon-14 (C14), atomic number 6, emits a beta particle and becomes an atom of nitrogen-14 (N14), atomic number 7.A third, very rare type of radioactive decay is called electron absorption.
When I first became interested in the creation-evolution debate, in late 1994, I looked around for sources that clearly and simply explained what radiometric dating is and why young-Earth creationists are driven to discredit it.
The decay rate and therefore the half-life are fixed characteristics of a nuclide. Thats the first axiom of radiometric dating techniques: the half-life of a given nuclide is a constant.
(Note that this doesnt mean the half-life of an element is a constant.
The half-life of a radioactive nuclide is defined as the time it takes half of a sample of the element to decay.
A mathematical formula can be used to calculate the half-life from the number of breakdowns per second in a sample of the nuclide.
Some nuclides have very long half-lives, measured in billions or even trillions of years.