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For example, carbon has three isotopes: 12C (or Carbon-12), 13C (Carbon-13), and 14C (Carbon-14).The number refers to the atomic weight of the isotope, which is the combined number of protons and neutrons.In this class, we will not go into more detail about how radiometric dating works, since that's covered in other Anthropology classes.What's important for understanding the outline of human evolution is recognizing that there are multiple radiometric dating techniques.These unstable isotopes are called radioactive isotopes.Radioactive decay is what we call it when these radioactive isotopes emit their subatomic particles as they change into more stable isotopes.Knowing when something happened helps us to understand how humans and cultures evolved.From John Lightfoot and Bishop James Ussher, who calculated the age of the earth using genealogies in the Bible, to Willard Libby, who developed radiocarbon dating and beyond, researchers have been working to establish a chronology of the past.

Anthropologists place the human individual, community, and population back into the environment and attempt to understand how humans interacted with that environment.

To critically evaluate the meaning of a early human fossil or tool, you must understand how the dates were determined and the limits on those dates.

More importantly, you need to know the relationship between the item being dated and the fossil or tool.

The number of protons an atom has determines which element it is, while the variation in the number of neutrons make it a particular isotope of that element.

Some isotopes are unstable; they decay into stable isotopes by emitting some of their subatomic particles.

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