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However, oxygen atoms can have between 8 and 10 neutrons in the nucleus and therefore the isotopes of oxygen have atomic masses of 16, 17, and 18 a.m.u.(and none are radioactive! Samarium (Sm) has 7 naturally occurring isotopes (3 are radioactive).Remind them that geologists only use certain radioactive isotopes to date rocks.There is no going back – the process is irreversible. When we pour our popcorn kernels into a popcorn popper, the is no way to know which will pop first.And once that first kernel pops, it will never be a kernel again..is forever changed! ) Teaching example using popcorn to teach radioactive decay "A variety of a chemical element (strictly, of one particular element) which is distinguished from the other varieties of the element by a different mass number but shares the same atomic number and chemical properties (and so occupies the same position in the periodic table)." That definition may not mean anything to them.In order to determine the age of a geologic material, we must understand the concept of half-life. The definition is: the radioactive isotopes in a system.
There are a number of ways that this can happen and when it does, the atom is forever changed.Those that decay are called radioactive (or parent) isotopes; those that are generated by decay are called radiogenic (or daughter) isotopes.