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

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  64 Ratings  ·  11 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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Aug 21, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
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
Arvind Balasundaram
Jan 27, 2014 Arvind Balasundaram rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 09, 2010 Alan rated it it was amazing
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
Brett Stortroen
Sep 09, 2012 Brett Stortroen rated it it was amazing
"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
Charles Ko
Apr 20, 2016 Charles Ko rated it it was amazing
It has a lot of historical backgrounds that are quite enjoyable to read. The author is a geologist, so he has more things to say about it from that perspective than, say nuclear physics. It's probably okay for most readers. Overall, easy and fun to read.
Apr 22, 2016 Mona rated it really liked it
241174 Hadar Ethiopia ~Who was Lucy, and why is she so important to human evolution? How old was Lucy when she died. Keen....I encourage you to read this book.
Dec 30, 2015 James rated it really liked it
Really good book for understanding the principles of carbon-dating, etc.
Craig Jorgensen
Jan 02, 2010 Craig Jorgensen rated it liked it
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.
Aug 22, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it
Though a little obtuse at times, "Nature's Clocks" is a very informative book on the different methods of dating the universe.
Tod Landis
Reading it now and really enjoying it.
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Doug Macdougall is a former Professor of Earth Sciences (now Emeritus) at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. Born in Toronto, he currently resides in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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