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But for humans whose life span rarely reaches more than years, how can we be so sure of that ancient date? Before then, the Bible had provided the only estimate for the age of the world: about 6, years, with Genesis as the history book.
Many chemical elements in rock exist in a number of slightly different forms, known as isotopes. Certain isotopes are unstable and undergo a process of radioactive decay, slowly and steadily transforming, molecule by molecule, into a different isotope. This rate of decay is constant for a given isotope, and the time it takes for one-half of a particular isotope to decay is its radioactive half-life.
Radiocarbon dating is a technique used by scientists to learn the ages of biological specimens – for example, wooden archaeological artifacts.