Radiometric dating technique definition
A technique for measuring the age of organic remains based on the rate of decay of carbon 14.
Because the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14 present in all living organisms is the same, and because the decay rate of carbon 14 is constant, the length of time that has passed since an organism has died can be calculated by comparing the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14 in its remains to the known ratio in living organisms.
Whenever possible we design an age study to take advantage of other ways of checking the reliability of the age measurements.
The simplest means is to repeat the analytical measurements in order to check for laboratory errors.
Once an organism is dead, however, no new carbon is actively absorbed by its tissues, and its carbon 14 gradually decays.
Libby thus reasoned that by measuring carbon 14 levels in the remains of an organism that died long ago, one could estimate the time of its death.
Along this line, Roger Wiens, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, asks those who are skeptical of radiometric dating to consider the following (quoted in several cases from [Wiens2002]): All of the different dating methods agree--they agree a great majority of the time over millions of years of time.In a related article on geologic ages (Ages), we presented a chart with the various geologic eras and their ages.In a separate article (Radiometric dating), we sketched in some technical detail how these dates are calculated using radiometric dating techniques.As we pointed out in these two articles, radiometric dates are based on known rates of radioactivity, a phenomenon that is rooted in fundamental laws of physics and follows simple mathematical formulas.Dating schemes based on rates of radioactivity have been refined and scrutinized for several decades.