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Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.
All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements, each with its own atomic number, indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus.
When you think about fossils, you probably picture the big-money stuff: T-Rex skeletons, perfectly preserved mammoths and the like.
Among the best-known techniques are radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon dating and uranium-lead dating.
Using radiometric dating and a whole bunch of other scientific methods -- most significantly, the dating of the oldest known meteorite particles -- scientists have determined that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old.
Radiometric dating or radioactive dating is a technique used to date materials such as rocks or carbon, in which trace radioactive impurities were selectively incorporated when they were formed.
By allowing the establishment of geological timescales, it provides a significant source of information about the ages of fossils and the deduced rates of evolutionary change.
Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.
This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including alpha decay (emission of alpha particles) and beta decay (electron emission, positron emission, or electron capture).