Atoms are made up of much smaller particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons.
Protons and neutrons make up the center (nucleus) of the atom, and electrons form shells around the nucleus.
The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom determines the element.
Before we get into the details of how radiometric dating methods are used, we need to review some preliminary concepts from chemistry.Recall that atoms are the basic building blocks of matter.The number of neutrons in the nucleus can vary in any given type of atom.So, a carbon atom might have six neutrons, or seven, or possibly eight—but it would always have six protons.With our focus on one particular form of radiometric dating—carbon dating—we will see that carbon dating strongly supports a young earth.
Note that, contrary to a popular misconception, carbon dating is not used to date rocks at millions of years old.One is for potentially dating fossils (once-living things) using carbon-14 dating, and the other is for dating rocks and the age of the earth using uranium, potassium and other radioactive atoms.The atomic number corresponds to the number of protons in an atom.Isotopes participate in the same chemical reactions but often at differing rates.When isotopes are to be designated specifically, the chemical symbol is expanded to identify the mass (for example, C is not stable.Signals of this kind are often used by chemists studying natural environments.