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The energies involved are so large, and the nucleus is so small that physical conditions in the Earth (i.e. The rate of decay or rate of change of the number N of particles is proportional to the number present at any time, i.e.

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Yet few people know how radiometric dating works or bother to ask what assumptions drive the conclusions.

Each atom is thought to be made up of three basic parts.

The nucleus contains protons (tiny particles each with a single positive electric charge) and neutrons (particles without any electric charge).

To see how we actually use this information to date rocks, consider the following: Usually, we know the amount, N, of an isotope present today, and the amount of a daughter element produced by decay, D*.

By definition, D* = N-1) (2) Now we can calculate the age if we know the number of daughter atoms produced by decay, D* and the number of parent atoms now present, N.

All rocks and minerals contain long-lived radioactive elements that were incorporated into Earth when the Solar System formed.