In 1905, Ernest Rutherford figured out that we could use radiation to establish the ages of rocks.
Along the way, we'll learn how stratigraphic succession and radioactive decay contribute to the work of paleontologists.
Consider the following scenario: Paul the Paleontologist is a very famous scientist who has studied dinosaur bones all over the world.
In 1896, a French physicist named Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity in an element called uranium.
He saw that it underwent radioactive decay, or emission of energetic particles to produce new elements.
Again, this doesn't tell them exactly how old the layers are, but it does give them an idea of the ordered sequence of events that occurred over the history of that geologic formation.
Sort of an offshoot of stratigraphic succession is fossil succession, or a method in which scientists compare fossils in different rock strata to determine the relative ages of each.
But really, how do scientists figure out how old their dinosaur bones are?
And, what about other findings like fossil fish, plants and insects?
If I told you that I was 30 years old, that number would be my numerical age.
If I told you I was 32 years younger than my mother, that number would be my relative age.
Scientists are always spouting information about the ages of rocks and fossils. Well, they figure it out using two different methods: relative dating and numerical dating.