It’s a little like bouncers throwing trouble-makers out of a dance club.The process happens with some mathematical regularity.Mathematics allows to predict half-lives, some of which are millions of years.To demonstrate, let us suppose we have a sample of 1000 nickels.If we pretend we can have fractions of coins, after two minutes, we would have 750-187.5, or 562.5 nickels and 437.5 pennies.We can tabulate the results to get a sense of the “history” of the decay.This instability results in what we conveniently call radioactivity.
If we had started with 2000 nickels, after 24 minutes we would have two nickels and after 26.4094 minutes we have have just one nickel.
Each nucleus is in constant turmoil, as protons and neutrons dance around each other, subject to forces beyond their control.
Protons try to repel each other, since they share the same positive electical charge.
Radioactive dating is one of the primary tools of science.
Geologists, biologists, paleontologists and archaelogists, among others, depend on radiometric analysis to place their discoveries chronologically.