Nature's Clocks: How Scientists Measure the Age of Almost Everything
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Nature's Clocks: How Scientists Measure the Age of Almost Everything

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  43 ratings  ·  7 reviews
"Radioactivity is like a clock that never needs adjusting," writes Doug Macdougall. "It would be hard to design a more reliable timekeeper." In Nature's Clocks, Macdougall tells how scientists who were seeking to understand the past arrived at the ingenious techniques they now use to determine the age of objects and organisms. By examining radiocarbon (C-14) dating—the bes...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 30th 2008 by University of California Press (first published May 31st 2008)
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Good layman's overview of radiometric dating. Since my degree is in physics (and in fact I did some independent research with a professor who was involved with the radiocarbon dating of The Shroud of Turin), the basic theory of radiometric dating is not new to me. However, the history and detailed fieldwork behind actually dating anything (particularly non-C14 dating techniques) was all new to me.

However, I was disappointed that the scope did not go beyond radiometric dating, since that is the f...more
Arvind Balasundaram
In Nature's Clocks, author and scientist Doug Macdougall takes his readers through a spellbinding tour of the science and art of geochronology. Tracing the roots of isotope chemistry to the accidental discovery of X-rays by Roentgen, followed by the work on radioactivity by Marie Curie and Henri Becquerel, this book introduces readers to how the science of radioactive dating matured from the popularly recognized carbon-14 to more elements like argon-potassium and zircon, and the use of complex t...more
We've all certainly read or heard of newspaper or magazine articles describing a new kind of fossil, maybe a dinosaur, and the article almost always includes a reference to the age of that fossil.

If you have ever wondered how scientists determine the ages of things then this is the book for you.

McDougall does a superb job of presenting and discussing the highly technical field of radiometric dating in a way that allows scientists and non-scientists alike to enjoy the ride. MacDougall hooked me...more
Brett Stortroen
"Nature's Clocks" covers in depth the history of how scientists discovered the technology of radiocarbon dating for biological carbon based life as well as the various radiometric dating for non-organic matter. The history of these great discoveries and the challenges overcome were quite compelling. In addition, this book lays out the case for the dating techniques and equipment employed in a logical well ordered format. The technical material was easy to follow and presented for the average lay...more
Craig Jorgensen
The oldest rocks are 4,567.2 million years old. The frozen "iceman" found in the alps is 5,200 years old. We know these timescales (and the ages of almost everything in between) with remarkable accuracy. In my opinion this is an amazing accomplishment of modern science. If you have even the slightest curiosity about how geologists, physicists, chemists, paleontologists and other scientists have figured this out then read this book. Pretty well written and engaging coverage of this subject matter...more
Focusing mainly on dating methods using radioactive decay, especially radiocarbon, uranium-lead, and potasssium argon methods. Explains calibration curve for radiocarbon. Interesting applications of methods.
Tod Landis
Reading it now and really enjoying it.
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Doug Macdougall is Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, and currently resides in Edinburgh, Scotland.
More about Doug Macdougall...
Frozen Earth: The Once and Future Story of Ice Ages Why Geology Matters: Decoding the Past, Anticipating the Future A Short History of Planet Earth: Mountains, Mammals, Fire, and Ice Continental Flood Basalts

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