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The atomic number corresponds to the number of protons in an atom.Atomic mass is a combination of the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus.The illustration below shows the three isotopes of carbon.Some isotopes of certain elements are unstable; they can spontaneously change into another kind of atom in a process called “radioactive decay.” Since this process presently happens at a known measured rate, scientists attempt to use it like a “clock” to tell how long ago a rock or fossil formed.It cannot be used directly to date rocks; however, it can potentially be used to put time constraints on some inorganic material such as diamonds (diamonds could contain carbon-14). Cosmic rays from outer space, which contain high levels of energy, bombard the earth’s upper atmosphere.
Before we get into the details of how radiometric dating methods are used, we need to review some preliminary concepts from chemistry.(The electrons are so much lighter that they do not contribute significantly to the mass of an atom.) C), also referred to as radiocarbon, is claimed to be a reliable dating method for determining the age of fossils up to 50,000 to 60,000 years.If this claim is true, the biblical account of a young earth (about 6,000 years) is in question, since C dates of tens of thousands of years are common.1 When a scientist’s interpretation of data does not match the clear meaning of the text in the Bible, we should never reinterpret the Bible.There are two main applications for radiometric dating.
One is for potentially dating fossils (once-living things) using carbon-14 dating, and the other is for dating rocks and the age of the earth using uranium, potassium and other radioactive atoms.Protons and neutrons make up the center (nucleus) of the atom, and electrons form shells around the nucleus.