Chapter 6 was, in my opinion, one of the best written chapters that I read in the book. This chapter dealt with the topic of radionuclide dating; that is, measuring the approximate age of some ancient, or perhaps not so ancient, organism utilizing the current decay of its components and the estimated half-life of those components. This technique is used locally here earth to estimate the age of fossils and ancient rocks, but this chapter mostly deals with using nuclear decay dating to estimate the age of extra terrestrial rocks and celestial bodies, including the planets themselves.
The chapter begins, like the other chapters in this book, with a short prologue summarizing the topics contained in this chapter. Now, honestly, most of these prologues are over-written and difficult for the reader to understand, but for some reason, I found this one to be helpful. Perhaps the author knew that this was a difficult subject and had anticipated that students would have trouble understanding it, or maybe this was just an easier topic to write about, but this chapter was actually helpful, a departure from the majority of this text.
The chapter starts with a short introduction about the history and timeline of radioactive dating, detailing the events that shaped modern techniques. Most of the short history lessons in this book seem hastily written, biased, and as if the author simply wrote it because he/she felt obligated to and didn’t really want to, but I found this one semi-entertaining and interesting to read. Next the chapter delves into the basic broad principles behind measuring time with radioactive decay, and does a very nice job of explaining these principles in a way that the reader can understand.
Something I really liked in this chapter was the inclusion of historical articles about the topics, I felt that it really added to the subject and made it a lot easier to learn from the book. A large gripe I have with several of the other... [continues]
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