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The decay of potassium into argon produces a gaseous atom which is trapped at the time of the crystallization of lava.The atom can escape when the lava is still liquid, but not after solidification.In both argon 40 and calcium 40, however, the number of protons and neutrons are even, granting them that extra stability.The very slow decay of potassium 40 into argon are highly useful for dating rocks, such as lava, whose age is between a million and a billion years.From potassium 40 to argon 40The electron capture which causes potassium 40 to transform into argon 40 in its ground state takes place in only 0.04% of cases.Far more frequently (10.68% of the time), an indirect capture leads to an excited argon atom which needs to return to its ground state by emitting a gamma ray at an energy of 1.46 Me V.
Beta-minus decay indicates a nucleus with too many neutrons, electron capture a nucleus with too many protons.
Potassium 40 should be at the bottom of this valley and should be the most stable of the nuclei containing 40 nucleons.
Its mass energy (or internal energy), however, is actually greater than either of its neighbours – calcium 40 and argon 40.
Measuring the amount of argon 40 formed since the solidification of the lava allows for an accurate measure of the rock age.
If you want to know how old someone or something is, you can generally rely on some combination of simply asking questions or Googling to arrive at an accurate answer.