You've got two decay products, lead and helium, and they're giving two different ages for the zircon. For this reason, ICR research has long focused on the science behind these dating techniques. These observations give us confidence that radiometric dating is not trustworthy. Research has even identified precisely where radioisotope dating went wrong. See the articles below for more information on the pitfalls of these dating methods. Radioactive isotopes are commonly portrayed as providing rock-solid evidence that the earth is billions of years old. Since such isotopes are thought to decay at consistent rates over time, the assumption is that simple measurements can lead to reliable ages.
Modern geological methods have at times proven thorny in the face of such popular but quaint and scientifically unsupported notions. Radiometric dating takes advantage of the fact that the composition of certain minerals rocks, fossils and other highly durable objects changes over time.
Specifically, the relative amounts of their constituent elements shift in a mathematically predictable way thanks to a phenomenon called radioactive decay.
This in turn relies on knowledge of isotopessome of which are "radioactive" that is, they spontaneously emit subatomic particles at a known rate. Isotopes are different versions of the same element e. Some things in nature disappear at a more or less constant rate, regardless of how much there is to start with and how much remains. For example, certain drugs, including ethyl alcohol, are metabolized by the body at a fixed number of grams per hour or whatever units are most convenient.
Scientist radiometric dating
If someone has the equivalent of five drinks in his system, the body takes five times as long to clear the alcohol as it would if he had one drink in his system. Many substances, however, both biological and chemical, conform to a different mechanism: In a given time period, half of the substance will disappear in a fixed time no matter how much is present to start with.
Such substances are said to have a half-life. Radioactive isotopes obey this principle, and they have wildly different decay rates. The utility of this lies in being able to calculate with ease how much of a given element was present at the time it was formed based on how much is present at the time of measurement.
This is because when radioactive elements first come into being, they are presumed to consist entirely of a single isotope. As radioactive decay occurs over time, more and more of this most common isotope "decays" i.
So, to sum this all up, radioactive dating is the process scientists use to conclude the ages of substances dating back several to many years ago by using the isotopes of elements and their half-lives. These neutrons can become unstable, and when they do, they release energy and undergo decay. Radiometric dating. Geologists use radiometric dating to estimate how long ago rocks formed, and to infer the ages of fossils contained within those rocks. Radioactive elements decay The universe is full of naturally occurring radioactive elements. For many people, radiometric dating might be the one scientific technique that most blatantly seems to challenge the Bible's record of recent creation. For this reason, ICR research has long focused on the science behind these dating techniques.
Imagine that you enjoy a certain kind of ice cream flavored with chocolate chips. You have a sneaky, but not especially clever, roommate who doesn't like the ice cream itself, but cannot resist picking out eating the chips - and in an effort to avoid detection, he replaces each one he consumes with a raisin.
He is afraid to do this with all of the chocolate chips, so instead, each day, he swipes half of the number of remaining chocolate chips and puts raisins in their place, never quite completing his diabolical transformation of your dessert, but getting closer and closer.
Say a second friend who is aware of this arrangement visits and notices that your carton of ice cream contains 70 raisins and 10 chocolate chips. She declares, "I guess you went shopping about three days ago. Because your roommate eats half of the chips on any given day, and not a fixed number, the carton must have held 20 chips the day before, 40 the day before that, and 80 the day before that. Calculations involving radioactive isotopes are more formal but follow the same basic principle: If you know the half-life of the radioactive element and can measure how much of each isotope is present, you can figure out the age of the fossil, rock or other entity it comes from.
Elements that have half-lives are said to obey a first-order decay process. They have what is known as a rate constant, usually denoted by k. The relationship between the number of atoms present at the start N 0the number present at the time of measurement N the elapsed time t, and the rate constant k can be written in two mathematically equivalent ways:.
In addition, you may wish to know the activity A of a sample, typically measured in disintegrations per second or dps.
Apr 03, Generally, we are told that scientists have ways to analyze the object they are dating so as to eliminate the uncertainties due to unknown processes that occurred in the past. One way this is done in many radioactive dating techniques is to use an isochron.
This is expressed simply as:. In radiometric dating, the measured ratio of certain radioactive elements is used as a proxy for age. Radioactive elements are atoms that are unstable; they spontaneously change into other types of atoms.
For example, potassium is radioactive. The number 40 refers to the sum of protons 19 and neutrons 21 in the potassium nucleus. Most potassium atoms on earth are potassium because they have 20 neutrons. Potassium and potassium are isotopes - elements with the same number of protons in the nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons.
Potassium is stable, meaning it is not radioactive and will remain potassium indefinitely.
Radiometric dating fascinates nearly everyone. Uranium-lead, potassium-argon, and rubidium-strontium are names associated with radiometric dating. 1,2 Jesus Christ talked about things that most of his listeners did not comprehend. Oct 27, We are told that scientists use a technique called radiometric dating to measure the age of rocks. We are also told that this method very reliably and consistently yields ages of millions to billions of years, thereby establishing beyond question that the earth is . Specifically, a process called radiometric dating allows scientists to determine the ages of objects, including the ages of rocks, ranging from thousands of years old to billions of years old to a marvelous degree of accuracy.
No external force is necessary. The conversion happens naturally over time. The time at which a given potassium atom converts to argon atom cannot be predicted in advance. It is apparently random.
However, when a sufficiently large number of potassium atoms is counted, the rate at which they convert to argon is very consistent. Think of it like popcorn in the microwave. You cannot predict when a given kernel will pop, or which kernels will pop before other kernels. But the rate of a large group of them is such at after 1.
This number has been extrapolated from the much smaller fraction that converts in observed time frames. Different radioactive elements have different half-lives. The potassium half-life is 1. But the half-life for uranium is about 4. The carbon half-life is only years. Cesium has a half-life of 30 years, and oxygen has a half-life of only The answer has to do with the exponential nature of radioactive decay.
The rate at which a radioactive substance decays in terms of the number of atoms per second that decay is proportional to the amount of substance.
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So after one half-life, half of the substance will remain. After another half-life, one fourth of the original substance will remain. Another half-life reduces the amount to one-eighth, then one-sixteenth and so on.
The substance never quite vanishes completely, until we get down to one atom, which decays after a random time. Since the rate at which various radioactive substances decay has been measured and is well known for many substances, it is tempting to use the amounts of these substances as a proxy for the age of a volcanic rock.
After 1. So, if you happened to find a rock with 1 microgram of potassium and a small amount of argon, would you conclude that the rock is 1.
If so, what assumptions have you made?
In the previous hypothetical example, one assumption is that all the argon was produced from the radioactive decay of potassium But is this really known? How do you know for certain that the rock was not made last Thursday, already containing significant amounts of argon and with only 1 microgram of potassium?
In a laboratory, it is possible to make a rock with virtually any composition. Ultimately, we cannot know. But there is a seemingly good reason to think that virtually all the argon contained within a rock is indeed the product of radioactive decay. Volcanic rocks are formed when the lava or magma cools and hardens. But argon is a gas. Since lava is a liquid, any argon gas should easily flow upward through it and escape. Thus, when the rock first forms, it should have virtually no argon gas within it.
But as potassium decays, the argon content will increase, and presumably remain trapped inside the now-solid rock.
So, by comparing the argon to potassium ratio in a volcanic rock, we should be able to estimate the time since the rock formed. This is called a model-age method. In this type of method, we have good theoretical reasons to assume at least one of the initial conditions of the rock.
The initial amount of argon when the rock has first hardened should be close to zero. Yet we know that this assumption is not always true. We know this because we have tested the potassium-argon method on recent rocks whose age is historically known.
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That is, brand new rocks that formed from recent volcanic eruptions such as Mt. Helens have been age-dated using the potassium-argon method. Their estimated ages were reported as hundreds of thousands of years based on the argon content, even though the true age was less than 10 years. Since the method has been shown to fail on rocks whose age is known, would it make sense to trust the method on rocks of unknown age? But many secular scientists continue to trust the potassium-argon model-age method on rocks of unknown age.
If so, then their true ages are much less than their radiometric age estimates. The age estimate could be wrong by a factor of hundreds of thousands. But how would you know? We must also note that rocks are not completely solid, but porous. And gas can indeed move through rocks, albeit rather slowly. So the assumption that all the produced argon will remain trapped in the rock is almost certainly wrong.
And it is also possible for argon to diffuse into the rock of course, depending on the relative concentration. So the system is not as closed as secularists would like to think. There are some mathematical methods by which scientists attempt to estimate the initial quantity of elements in a rock, so that they can compensate for elements like argon that might have been present when the rock first formed.
Such techniques are called isochron methods. They are mathematically clever, and we may explore them in a future article. However, like the model-age method, they are known to give incorrect answers when applied to rocks of known age. And neither the model-age method nor the isochron method are able to assess the assumption that the decay rate is uniform.
As we will see below, this assumption is very dubious.
Years ago, a group of creation scientists set out to explore the question of why radiometric dating methods give inflated age estimates. We know they do because of the aforementioned tests on rocks whose origins were observed. But why? Which of the three main assumptions initial conditions are known, rate of decay is known, the system is close is false?
To answer this question, several creation geologists and physicists came together to form the RATE research initiative R adioisotopes and the A ge of T he E arth. This multi-year research project engaged in several different avenues of study, and found some fascinating results. As mentioned above, the isochron method uses some mathematical techniques in an attempt to estimate the initial conditions and assess the closed-ness of the system. However, neither it nor the model-age method allow for the possibility that radioactive decay might have occurred at a different rate in the past.
In other words, all radiometric dating methods assume that the half-life of any given radioactive element has always been the same as it is today. If that assumption is false, then all radiometric age estimates will be unreliable.
As it turns out, there is compelling evidence that the half-lives of certain slow-decaying radioactive elements were much smaller in the past.
This may be the main reason why radiometric dating often gives vastly inflated age estimates. First, a bit of background information is in order. Research has even identified precisely where radioisotope dating went wrong.
See the articles below for more information on the pitfalls of these dating methods. Radioactive isotopes are commonly portrayed as providing rock-solid evidence that the earth is billions of years old.
Since such isotopes are thought to decay at consistent rates over time, the assumption is that simple measurements can lead to reliable ages. But new discoveries of rate fluctuations continue to challenge the reliability of radioisotope decay rates in general-and thus, the reliability of vast ages seemingly derived from radioisotope dating.
The discovery of fresh blood in a spectacular mosquito fossil strongly contradicts its own "scientific" age assignment of 46 million years. What dating method did scientists use, and did it really generate reliable results? For about a century, radioactive decay rates have been heralded as steady and stable processes that can be reliably used to help measure how old rocks are.
They helped underpin belief in vast ages and had largely gone unchallenged. Many scientists rely on the assumption that radioactive elements decay at constant, undisturbed rates and therefore can be used as reliable clocks to measure the ages of rocks and artifacts. Most estimates of the age of the earth are founded on this assumption. However, new observations have found that those nuclear decay rates actually fluctuate based on solar activity. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Polonium radiohalos remain "a very tiny mystery. The field of radiocarbon dating has become a technical one far removed from the naive simplicity which characterized its initial introduction by Libby in the late 's.
It is, therefore, not surprising that many misconceptions about what radiocarbon can or cannot do and what it has or has not shown are prevalent among creationists and evolutionists - lay people as well as scientists not directly involved in this field.
In the following article, some of the most common misunderstandings regarding radiocarbon dating are addressed, and corrective, up-to-date scientific creationist thought is provided where appropriate. The presence of measurable radiocarbon in fossil wood supposedly tens and hundreds of millions of years old has been well-documented.
Skip to main content. Which is more trustworthy: carbon dating or reliable eyewitnesses? In this episode, Dr. Jim Johnson investigates What About Radioisotope Clocks? But ICR scientists have carefully examined their claims and found flaws and holes