Methods of Age Dating The U-238 decay series illustrates the complexity of this concept. U-238 emits an alpha particle, becoming changed to thorium-234, which in turn emits a beta particle. The thorium is changed into protactinium-234, which later emits a beta particle, causing it to become uranium-234. Emission of an alpha particle from the U-234 forms thorium-230, which later on emits an alpha particle to become radium-226, which in turn emits an alpha particle to form radon-222, a gas. Radon-222 emits an alpha particle and becomes polonium-218, wich become lead-214 with the later emission of an alpha particle. Lead-214 emits a beta particle, becomming bismuth-214, which later on emits a beta particle to form polonium-214. The emission of an alpha particle converts polonium-214 into lead-210, this later emits a beta particle and becomes bismuth-210, which in its turn emits a beta particle to form polonium-210. The process stops when an alpha is emitted to form lead-206, which is stable. Whew! If we start with one pound of U-238, one half
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