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So let’s take a closer look at these methods and see how reliable they really are.
To achieve stability, these atoms must make adjustments, particularly in their nuclei.
In some cases, the isotopes eject particles, primarily neutrons and protons.
Each chemical element, such as carbon and oxygen, consists of atoms unique to it.
Thus, geologists refer to uranium-lead (two versions), potassium-argon, rubidium-strontium, or samarium-neodymium dates for rocks.
The atoms in each chemical element may vary slightly in the numbers of neutrons within their nuclei.
These slightly different atoms of the same chemical element are called isotopes of that element.
(These are the moving particles which constitute the radioactivity measured by Geiger counters and the like.) The end result is stable atoms, but of a numbers of protons and electrons.
This process of changing the isotope of one element (designated as the parent) into the isotope of another element (referred to as the daughter) is called radioactive decay.