Age of the Universe Term Paper

Total Length: 869 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: -3

Page 1 of 3

Age of the Universe

Understanding the origin of the universe and the mysteries behind the complex machinery has always been a fascinating subject for the inquisitive minded. Questions of the nature as to whether the universe is infinite or is it well confined within its own boundaries, the exact time period in which the universe came into being, the ultimate end and other cosmological complexities of the universe are rather intriguing. The inherent curiosity to unravel the secrets behind the universe has long driven scientists in to exploring the beginnings of our universe. In the process methods have been evolved which have more or less traced down the age of our universe. Let us have a brief outlook into one of the well-known methods available for calculating the age of earth.

Radiometric Method

Currently radiometric-rating technique is one of the valid methods of calculating the age of the universe. Radiometric rating method is based on the principle of radioactive decay of one isotopic element into another isotopic element. Since the radioactive decay of certain elements like Potassium / argon, rubidium -strontium is well-known (half life periods) we can evaluate the age of any chemical substance by measuring the changing ratios of the two isotopes. (Parent / child) Using this method we can approximately arrive at the age of chemical elements.
For example Rubidium87 and strontium86 are two elements present in rocks. Rb87 undergoes radioactive decay to form sr87. The half-life period of this radioactive decay is 47 billion years.

So as an example for calculating the age of a rock we need to calculate the ratio of sr87/sr86. Applying the linear fit we get Sr.-87/Sr.-86 = a + b*(Rb-87/Sr.-86). We can solve the slope of the equation b= b = 2x - 1 where x is the number of half-life period of the rock. Using these technique scientists have identified the oldest meteorite to be around 4.6 billion years old. [Edward L. Wright] It has to be understood that the radiometric technique is not without any drawbacks. Our main cause of concern with such a technique is that it is purely based on the changing ratio between the parent child isotopes. (Rubidium to strontium or Thorium to Neodymium etc.). This would work perfectly only in a completely isolated system where there is no external addition or removal of the parent / daughter isotopes.

Astronomer Harvey Butcher applied the Radiometric dating technique to calculate the age of the universe. Using spectroscopy he was able to find out the Thorium/neodymium ratio in the sun and neighboring stars. Neodymium is the radioactive product of Thorium. Each of….....

Have Any Questions? Our Expert Writers Can Answer!

Need Help Writing Your Essay?