Early methods of absolute age dating
Far from being data, these dates are actually interpretations of the data.
As discussed before, the assumptions influence the interpretation of the data.
Love-hungry teenagers and archaeologists agree: dating is hard.
But while the difficulties of single life may be intractable, the challenge of determining the age of prehistoric artifacts and fossils is greatly aided by measuring certain radioactive isotopes.
The atoms of some chemical elements have different forms, called isotopes.
These break down over time in a process scientists call radioactive decay.
Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.
Until this century, relative dating was the only technique for identifying the age of a truly ancient object.