Start Relative dating methods help scientists to

Relative dating methods help scientists to

By measuring the amount of carbon-14 remaining, scientists can pinpoint the exact date of the organism's death.

Cosmic rays: Invisible, high-energy particles that constantly bombard Earth from all directions in space.

These include the uranium-thorium method, the potassium-argon method, and the rubidium-strontium method. Thermoluminescence (pronounced ther-moeloo-mi-NES-ence) dating is very useful for determining the age of pottery.

When a piece of pottery is heated in a laboratory at temperatures more than 930°F (500°C), electrons from quartz and other minerals in the pottery clay emit light.

Relative dating methods are used to determine only if one sample is older or younger than another.

Absolute dating methods are used to determine an actual date in years for the age of an object.

The nucleus of every radioactive element (such as radium and uranium) spontaneously disintegrates over time, transforming itself into the nucleus of an atom of a different element.

In the process of disintegration, the atom gives off radiation (energy emitted in the form of waves). Each element decays at its own rate, unaffected by external physical conditions.

When the organism dies, the supply stops, and the carbon-14 contained in the organism begins to spontaneously decay into nitrogen-14.