How paleontologists estimate geologic time through radiometric dating

Unfortunately, those methods don't work on all rocks, and they don't work at all if you don't have rocks in the laboratory to age-date. They are descriptions of how one rock or event is older or younger than another.

There's no absolute age-dating method that works from orbit, and although scientists are working on age-dating instruments small enough to fly on a lander (I'm looking at you, Barbara Cohen), nothing has launched yet. Relative age dating has given us the names we use for the major and minor geologic time periods we use to split up the history of Earth and all the other planets.

Only hard parts, like bones and teeth, can become fossils.

But for some people, the discovery raised a different question.

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the basins of the Moon -- a result of a trip down a rabbit hole of book research.

Here's the next step in that journey: the Geologic Time Scales of Earth and the Moon.

Usually, atoms have an equal number of protons and neutrons.

If there are too many or too few neutrons, the atom is unstable, and it sheds particles until its nucleus reaches a stable state.

Darwin and his contemporaries could never have imagined the improvements in resolution of stratigraphy that have come since 1859, nor guessed what fossils were to be found in the southern continents, nor predicted the huge increase in the number of amateur and professional paleontologists worldwide.Current understanding of the history of life is probably close to the truth because it is based on repeated and careful testing and consideration of data.The rejection of the validity of fossils and of dating by religious fundamentalists creates a problem for them: Fossil sequences were recognized and established in their broad outlines long before Charles Darwin had even thought of evolution.Radiometric dating relies on the properties of isotopes.These are chemical elements, like carbon or uranium, that are identical except for one key feature -- the number of neutrons in their nucleus.

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