sen yâbi-ye partow-žirâ
Fr.: datation radioactive
Determining the age of an object from the → radioactive decay of its constituting material. The technique consists of comparing the → abundance ratio of a → radioactive isotope to its → decay product. This will yield the number of half-lives that have occurred since the sample was formed. More specifically, if an object is made up of 50 % decay product then it has gone through 1 → half-life. 75% decay product equals 2 half-lives, 87.5% decay product equals 3 half-lives, 93.76% decay product equals 4 half-lives, and so on. For example, the decay product of → uranium-238 (238U) is → lead-206 (206Pb). The half-life of 238U is 4.5 billion years. Hence, if the sample has gone through two half-lives, it is 9 billion years old. See also: → radiocarbon dating.