What is uranium 238 used for dating rocks
First discovered in the 18th century, uranium is an element found everywhere on Earth, but mainly in trace quantities.
In 1938, German physicists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann showed that uranium could be split into parts to yield energy.
Uranium is the principal fuel for nuclear reactors and the main raw material for nuclear weapons.
Natural uranium consists of three isotopes: uranium-238, uranium-235, and uranium-234. The nuclei of radioactive elements are unstable, meaning they are transformed into other elements, typically by emitting particles (and sometimes by absorbing particles).
This process, known as radioactive decay, generally results in the emission of alpha or beta particles from the nucleus.
It is often also accompanied by emission of gamma radiation, which is electromagnetic radiation, like X-rays.
The various decay products, (sometimes referred to as “progeny” or “daughters”) form a series starting at uranium-238.After several more alpha and beta decays, the series ends with the stable isotope lead-206.Uranium-238 emits alpha particles which are less penetrating than other forms of radiation, and weak gamma rays As long as it remains outside the body, uranium poses little health hazard (mainly from the gamma-rays).If inhaled or ingested, however, its radioactivity poses increased risks of lung cancer and bone cancer.Uranium is also chemically toxic at high concentrations and can cause damage to internal organs, notably the kidneys.