Radiocarbon dating and evolution

This is an informational tour in which students gain a basic understanding of geologic time, the evidence for events in Earth’s history, relative and absolute dating techniques, and the significance of the Geologic Time Scale.Geologist Ralph Harvey and historian Mott Greene explain the principles of radiometric dating and its application in determining the age of Earth.

Atoms can fuse together to create new elements; they can also spontaneously break down, firing off subatomic particles and switching from one element to another in the process (see figure, right).Hutton's theories were short on evidence at first, but by 1830 most scientists concurred that Noah's ark was more allegory than reality as they documented geological layering.Using fossils as guides, they began to piece together a crude history of Earth, but it was an imperfect history.Life is well over 3.5 billion years old, and until about 600 million years ago, the planet was dominated by microbes.Radioactive clocks have shown that evolution can change its pace — the Cambrian Explosion of about 535 million years ago saw the relatively rapid emergence of many major lineages of animals in just a few million years.