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Shortly after Becquerel's find, Marie Curie, a French chemist, isolated another highly radioactive element, .The realisation that radioactive materials emit rays indicated a constant change of those materials from one element to another.The New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford, suggested in 1905 that the exact age of a rock could be measured by means of radioactivity.For the first time he was able to exactly measure the age of a uranium mineral.As radioactive Parent atoms decay to stable daughter atoms (as uranium decays to lead) each disintegration results in one more atom of the daughter than was initially present and one less atom of the parent.The probability of a parent atom decaying in a fixed period of time is always the same for all atoms of that type regardless of temperature, pressure, or chemical conditions. The time required for one-half of any original number of parent atoms to decay is the half-life, which is related to the decay constant by a simple mathematical formula.
As a result, rocks that record its earliest history have not been found and probably no longer exist.All rocks and minerals contain long-lived radioactive elements that were incorporated into Earth when the Solar System formed.These radioactive elements constitute independent clocks that allow geologists to determine the age of the rocks in which they occur.A hundred years ago, our ideas about the ages of rocks and the age of the Earth were vague. Judging from the amount of rocks there are, plus the imperceptible rates of the processes forming them—erosion, burial, fossilization, uplift—the geologic record must represent untold millions of years of time.
It is that insight, first expressed in 1785, that made James Hutton the father of geology.Radioactivity was discovered in 1896 by French physicist Henri Becquerel.