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He was employed at Caltech's Division of Geological & Planetary Sciences at the time of writing the first edition.
The weight of an atom is determined by the number of neutrons and protons that are present in the nucleus.
As a result, the atomic mass for one atom may be different from another atom of the same element if the number of neutrons varies.
Atomic mass must account for all possible species or nuclides (isotopes), of an atom.
Radiometric dating--the process of determining the age of rocks from the decay of their radioactive elements--has been in widespread use for over half a century.
There are over forty such techniques, each using a different radioactive element or a different way of measuring them.
This weighted average is the relative mass listed in the Periodic Table.