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Some of the atoms eventually change from one element to another by a process called radioactive decay.

If there are a lot of atoms of the original element, called the parent element, the atoms decay to another element, called the daughter element, at a predictable rate.

Radiometric dating can be compared to an hourglass.Most processes that we are familiar with are like sand in an hourglass.In exponential decay the amount of material decreases by half during each half-life.You cannot predict exactly when any one particular grain will get to the bottom, but you can predict from one time to the next how long the whole pile of sand takes to fall.Once all of the sand has fallen out of the top, the hourglass will no longer keep time unless it is turned over again.

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