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Where the amounts of parent and daughter isotopes can be accurately measured, the ratio can be used to determine how old the rock is, as shown in the following activities.

Part 2a Activity — At any moment there is a small chance that each of the nuclei of U-235 will suddenly decay.

In general, with the exception of the single proton that constitutes the nucleus of the most abundant isotope of hydrogen, the number of neutrons must at least equal the number of protons in an atomic nucleus, because electrostatic repulsion prohibits denser packing of protons.

But if there are too many neutrons, the nucleus is potentially unstable and decay may be triggered.

A nucleus with that number of protons is called lead (chemical symbol Pb). This particular form (isotope) of lead is called Pb-207.It is estimated to require four hours of class time, including approximately one hour total of occasional instruction and explanation from the teacher and two hours of group (team) and individual activities by the students, plus one hour of discussion among students within the working groups.Explore this link for additional information on the topics covered in this lesson: This activity will help students to have a better understanding of the basic principles used to determine the age of rocks and fossils. Objectives of this activity are: 1) To have students determine relative age of a geologically complex area.In other words, during 704 million years, half the U-235 atoms that existed at the beginning of that time will decay to Pb-207. Many elements have some isotopes that are unstable, essentially because they have too many neutrons to be balanced by the number of protons in the nucleus.Each of these unstable isotopes has its own characteristic half life.

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