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The natural log is just saying-- to what power do I have to raise e to get e to the negative k times 1.25 billion? k is equal to the natural log of 1/2 times negative 1.25 times 10 to the ninth power.
So the natural log of this-- the power they'd have to raise e to to get to e to the negative k times 1.25 billion-- is just negative k times 1.25 billion. And then, to solve for k, we can divide both sides by negative 1.25 billion. And what we can do is we can multiply the negative times the top.
And let's say that the argon-- actually, I'm going to say the potassium-40 found, and let's say the argon-40 found-- let's say it is 0.01 milligram. And to figure out our initial amount, we just have to remember that for every argon-40 we see, that must have decayed from-- when you have potassium-40, when it decays, 11% decays into argon-40 and the rest-- 89%-- decays into calcium-40. So however much argon-40, that is 11% of the decay product.
So how can we use this information-- in what we just figured out here, which is derived from the half-life-- to figure out how old this sample right over here? So we need to figure out what our initial amount is. So if you want to think about the total number of potassium-40s that have decayed since this was kind of stuck in the lava.
So what we do is we come up with terms that help us get our head around this. So I wrote a decay reaction right here, where you have carbon-14. So now you have, after one half-life-- So let's ignore this. I don't know which half, but half of them will turn into it. And then let's say we go into a time machine and we look back at our sample, and let's say we only have 10 grams of our sample left.
Now you could say, OK, what's the probability of any given molecule reacting in one second? But we're used to dealing with things on the macro level, on dealing with, you know, huge amounts of atoms. So I have a description, and we're going to hopefully get an intuition of what half-life means. And how does this half know that it must stay as carbon? So if you go back after a half-life, half of the atoms will now be nitrogen. Then all of a sudden you can use the law of large numbers and say, OK, on average, if each of those atoms must have had a 50% chance, and if I have gazillions of them, half of them will have turned into nitrogen. How much time, you know, x is decaying the whole time, how much time has passed?
In the last video, we give a bit of an overview of potassium-argon dating.
In this video, I want to go through a concrete example.
How do we figure out how old this sample is right over there? And we learned that anything that was there before, any argon-40 that was there before would have been able to get out of the liquid lava before it froze or before it hardened. Let's see how many-- this is thousands, so it's 3,000-- so we get 156 million or 156.9 million years if we round.
Well, what we need to figure out-- we know that n, the amount we were left with, is this thing right over here. And that's going to be equal to some initial amount-- when we use both of this information to figure that initial amount out-- times e to the negative kt. So to figure out how much potassium-40 this is derived from, we just divide it by 11%. And this isn't the exact number, but it'll get the general idea. So this is approximately a 157-million-year-old sample.
And we know that there's a generalized way to describe that.