Rubidium strontium dating formula
Symbolically, the process of radioactive decay can be expressed by the following differential equation, where N is the quantity of decaying nuclei and k is a positive number called the exponential decay constant.
The meaning of this equation is that the rate of change of the number of nuclei over time is proportional only to the number of nuclei.
To date older fossils, other methods are used, such as potassium-argon or argon-argon dating.
Other forms of dating based on reactive minerals like rubidium or potassium can date older finds including fossils, but have the limitation that it is easy for ions to move into rocks post-formation so that care must be taken to consider geology and other factors.
Most rocks contain uranium, allowing uranium-lead and similar methods to date them.
Other elements used for dating, such as rubidium, occur in some minerals but not others, restricting usefulness.
The time that it takes for half of a sample to decay is known as the half life of the isotope.
Some isotopes have half lives longer than the present age of the universe, but they are still subject to the same laws of quantum physics and will eventually decay, even if doing so at a time when all remaining atoms in the universe are separated by astronomical distances.