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The half-life is reliable in dating artifacts because it's not affected by environmental or chemical factors; it does not change.When scientists find a sample, they measure the amount of the original, or parent, isotope and compare it to the amount of the decay product formed.

Isotopes decay at a constant rate known as the half-life.

If another 4.5 billion years were to pass, then half of the remaining half of uranium-238 would also decay, leaving 25% uranium to 75% lead.

If a scientist were to compute this, he or she would say two half-lives went by at a rate of 4.5 billion years per half-life; therefore, the sample is approximately 2 times 4.5 billion, or 9 billion years old. So you see, earth scientists are able to use the half-lives of isotopes to date materials back to thousands, millions, and even to billions of years old.

So, to sum this all up, radioactive dating is the process scientists use to conclude the ages of substances dating back several to many years ago by using the isotopes of elements and their half-lives.

An isotope is a variation of an element based upon the number of neutrons.

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