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The release of radiation by unstable nuclei is called radioactive decay.

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It can also be defined as the time taken for the count rate of a sample of radioactive material to fall to half of its starting level.Natural uranium as found in the Earth's crust is a mixture largely of two isotopes: uranium-238 (U-238), accounting for 99.3% and uranium-235 (U-235) about 0.7%.The isotope U-235 is important because under certain conditions it can readily be split, yielding a lot of energy.Students should be able to understand the principles and have that as a background so that age determinations by paleontologists and geologists don't seem like black magic. Geologists in the late 18th and early 19th century studied rock layers and the fossils in them to determine relative age.William Smith was one of the most important scientists from this time who helped to develop knowledge of the succession of different fossils by studying their distribution through the sequence of sedimentary rocks in southern England.