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C-14 locked in an object from several thousand years ago will decay at a certain rate.

With their knowledge of chemistry, archeologists can measure how many thousands of years old an object is.

In this particular case, it takes 4,460,000,000 years for half of a sample of U238 to decay into Pb206.

The calcium-potassium age method is seldom used, however, because of the great abundance of nonradiogenic calcium in minerals or rocks, which masks the presence of radiogenic calcium.

On the other hand, the abundance of argon in the Earth is relatively small because of its escape to the atmosphere during processes associated with volcanism.

There is a time when it loses its extra neutrons and becomes C-12.

The loss of those neutrons is called radioactive decay. For carbon, the decay happens in a few thousand years (5,730 years).

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The three key underlying assumptions are 1) the rate of decay of parent into daughter has remained constant throughout the unobservable past; 2) the specimen which we are examining hasn’t been contaminated in any way (that is, no parent or daughter has been added or taken away at any point during the unobservable past), and 3) we can determine how much parent and daughter were present at the beginning of the decay process – not all of the Pb206 present today necessarily came from decaying U238; Pb206 may have been part of the original constitution of the specimen.

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