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Radioactivity was discovered in 1896 by French physicist Henri Becquerel.By 1907 study of the decay products of uranium (lead and intermediate radioactive elements that decay to lead) demonstrated to B. Boltwood that the lead/uranium ratio in uranium minerals increased with geologic age and might provide a geological dating tool.

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Since the moon and the Earth probably formed at the same time, this supports the current idea of the Earth's age.

You can learn more about fossils, dinosaurs, radiometric dating and related topics by reading through the links on the next page.

Unfortunately, these elements don't exist in dinosaur fossils themselves.

Each of them typically exists in igneous rock, or rock made from cooled magma.

This is what archaeologists use to determine the age of human-made artifacts. The half-life of carbon-14 is only 5,730 years, so carbon-14 dating is only effective on samples that are less than 50,000 years old.

Dinosaur bones, on the other hand, are millions of years old -- some fossils are billions of years old.

Scientists have also made improvements to the standard radiometric measurements.

For example, by using a laser, researchers can measure parent and daughter atoms in extremely small amounts of matter, making it possible to determine the age of very small samples [source: New Scientist].

As radioactive Parent atoms decay to stable daughter atoms (as uranium decays to lead) each disintegration results in one more atom of the daughter than was initially present and one less atom of the parent.

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