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All rocks and minerals contain tiny amounts of these radioactive elements.Radioactive elements are unstable; they breakdown spontaneously into more stable atoms over time, a process known as radioactive decay.
Suppose that we wanted to find out how long it has been since an hourglass was set running by measuring the amount of sand in the lower bulb.
For example, in 1991, two hikers discovered a mummified man, preserved for centuries in the ice on an alpine mountain.
Later called Ötzi the Iceman, small samples from his body were carbon dated by scientists.
This method relies on the uptake of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of carbon, carbon-14 by all living things.
In this article I shall define absolute dating, and shall discuss the conditions that we would require to use a geological process as the basis for absolute dating.