Radiometric dating simulation

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To demonstrate that the rates of decay of unstable nuclei can be measured, that the exact time that a certain nucleus will decay cannot be predicted, and that it takes a very large number of nuclei to find the rate of decay.

This is the second lesson in a three-lesson series about isotopes, radioactive decay, and the nucleus.

The mathematics of inferring backwards from measurements to age is not appropriate for most students.

To achieve this revised date, an international team led by Seth Jacobson from Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur in Nice, France, devised a new method based on measurements of the Earth’s interior combined with computer simulations of the protoplanetary disk from which the Earth and other planets formed.By determining the amount of the parent and daughter isotopes present in a sample and by knowing their rate of radioactive decay (each radioisotope has its own decay constant), the isotopic age of the sample can be calculated.For dating minerals and rocks, investigators commonly use the following couplets of parent and daughter isotopes: thorium-232–lead-208, uranium-235–lead-207, samarium-147–neodymium-143, rubidium-87–strontium-87, potassium-40–argon-40, and argon-40–argon-39.Each activity requires you to make careful observations and measurements, do simple calculations, and answer questions about your work.The moon was born when a Mars-sized body impacted Earth during its very early days.

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