The rock is dating
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The most widely known form of radiometric dating is carbon-14 dating.
To determine the ages of these specimens, scientists need an isotope with a very long half-life.
Some of the isotopes used for this purpose are uranium-238, uranium-235 and potassium-40, each of which has a half-life of more than a million years.
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].Radiometric dating isn't the only method of determining the age of rocks.Other techniques include analyzing amino acids and measuring changes in an object's magnetic field.This information has also helped determine the age of the Earth itself.While the oldest known rocks on Earth are about 3.5 billion years old, researchers have found zircon crystals that are 4.3 billion years old [source: USGS].
Search for the rock is dating:
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.