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Radioactive decay: The predictable manner in which a population of atoms of a radioactive element spontaneously disintegrate over time.

Relative dating methods are used to determine only if one sample is older or younger than another.

Absolute dating methods are used to determine an actual date in years for the age of an object.

Dendrochronology: Also known as tree-ring dating, the science concerned with determining the age of trees by examining their growth rings.

Half-life: Measurement of the time it takes for one-half of a radioactive substance to decay.

When the organism dies, the supply stops, and the carbon-14 contained in the organism begins to spontaneously decay into nitrogen-14.

The time it takes for one-half of the carbon-14 to decay (a period called a half-life) is 5,730 years.When carbon-14 falls to Earth, it is absorbed by plants.These plants are eaten by animals who, in turn, are eaten by even larger animals.The older the pottery, the brighter the light that will be emitted.Using thermoluminescence, pottery pieces as old as 100,000 years can be dated with precision. Known as dendrochronology (pronounced den-dro-crow-NOL-o-gee), tree-ring dating is based on the fact that trees produce one growth ring each year.Narrow rings grow in cold or dry years, and wide rings grow in warm or wet years.