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Note that, contrary to a popular misconception, carbon dating is not used to date rocks at millions of years old.

Before we get into the details of how radiometric dating methods are used, we need to review some preliminary concepts from chemistry.

So, a carbon atom might have six neutrons, or seven, or possibly eight—but it would always have six protons.

An “isotope” is any of several different forms of an element, each having different numbers of neutrons.

Scientists use a technique called radiometric dating to estimate the ages of rocks, fossils, and the earth.

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