This happens at any time when addition of the fleeting "weak nuclear force" to the ever-present electrostatic repulsion exceeds the binding energy required to hold the nucleus together.
Very careful measurements in laboratories, made on VERY LARGE numbers of U-235 atoms, have shown that each of the atoms has a chance of decaying during about 704,000,000 years.
Return to top Each team of 3 to 5 students should discuss together how to determine the relative age of each of the rock units in the block diagram (Figure 1).
Many rocks contain small amounts of unstable isotopes and the daughter isotopes into which they decay.It wasn't until well into the 20th century that enough information had accumulated about the rate of radioactive decay that the age of rocks and fossils in number of years could be determined through radiometric age dating.This activity on determining age of rocks and fossils is intended for 8th or 9th grade students.4) To demonstrate how the rate of radioactive decay and the buildup of the resulting decay product is used in radiometric dating of rocks. (A single watch or clock for the entire class will do.) 6) Piece of paper marked TIME and indicating either 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 minutes.5) To use radiometric dating and the principles of determining relative age to show how ages of rocks and fossils can be narrowed even if they cannot be dated radiometrically. 2) Large cup or other container in which M & M's can be shaken. 7) 128 small cards or buttons that may be cut from cardboard or construction paper, preferably with a different color on opposite sides, each marked with "U-235" all on one colored side and "Pb-207" on the opposite side that has some contrasting color.