Radiometric dating evolution

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The New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford, suggested in 1905 that the exact age of a rock could be measured by means of radioactivity.

Atoms can fuse together to create new elements; they can also spontaneously break down, firing off subatomic particles and switching from one element to another in the process (see figure, right).This half-life (t 1/2) is the name given to this value which Libby measured at 556830 years. After 10 half-lives, there is a very small amount of radioactive carbon present in a sample.At about 50 000 to 60 000 years, the limit of the technique is reached (beyond this time, other radiometric techniques must be used for dating).Life is well over 3.5 billion years old, and until about 600 million years ago, the planet was dominated by microbes.Radioactive clocks have shown that evolution can change its pace — the Cambrian Explosion of about 535 million years ago saw the relatively rapid emergence of many major lineages of animals in just a few million years.

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