When it comes to determining the age of stuff scientists dig out of the ground, whether fossil or artifact, “there are good dates and bad dates and ugly dates,” says paleoanthropologist John Shea of Stony Brook University.
This does not mean that radiometric dates or any other scientific measurements are unreliable.billion years, the chronometric age of a sample can be calculated.
This dating method can be used with samples that are as young as a few decades to as old as the earth and beyond.
Since the magnetic field progressively changes with time in a predictable way Whenever possible, paleoanthropologists collect as many dating samples from an ancient human occupation site as possible and employ a variety of chronometric dating methods.
In this way, the confidence level of the dating is significantly increased.
decay or the rate of other cumulative changes in atoms resulting from radioactivity. The various isotopes of the same element differ in terms of atomic mass but have the same atomic number..
One half-life is the amount of time required for of the original atoms in a sample to decay.However, paleoanthropologists rarely use it to date sites more than several million years old.rock, soil, and clay produce constant low amounts of background ionizing radiation.Radiometric dates, like all measurements in science, are close statistical approximations rather than absolutes.This will always be true due to the finite limits of measuring equipment.Sometimes only one method is possible, reducing the confidence researchers have in the results. “They’re based on ‘it’s that old because I say so,’ a popular approach by some of my older colleagues,” says Shea, laughing, “though I find I like it myself as I get more gray hair.” Kidding aside, dating a find is crucial for understanding its significance and relation to other fossils or artifacts.