If you want to know how old someone or something is, you can generally rely on some combination of simply asking questions or Googling to arrive at an accurate answer. This applies to everything from the age of a classmate to the number of years the United States has existed as a sovereign nation and counting as of But what about the ages of objects of antiquity, from a newly discovered fossil to the very age of the Earth itself? Sure, you can scour the Internet and learn rather quickly that the scientific consensus pins the age of of the planet at about 4. But Google didn't invent this number; instead, human ingenuity and applied physics have provided it. 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. This relies on a proven combination of basic mathematics and knowledge of the physical properties of different chemical elements.
Home earth Earth History Geologist Radioactive. Read about How do we know the Age of the Earth? Radiometric dating using the naturally-occurring radioactive elements is simple in concept even though technically complex. If we know the number of radioactive parent atoms present when a rock formed and the number present now, we can calculate the age of the rock using the decay constant. The number of parent atoms originally present is simply the number present now plus the number of daughter atoms formed by the decay, both of which are quantities that can be measured.
Samples for dating are selected carefully to avoid those that are altered, contaminated, or disturbed by later heating or chemical events. In addition to the ages of Earth, Moon, and meteorites, radiometric dating has been used to determine ages of fossils, including early man, timing of glaciations, ages of mineral deposits, recurrence rates of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the history of reversals of Earth's magnetic field, and the age and duration of a wide variety of other geological events and processes.
The age equation The mathematical expression that relates radioactive decay to geologic time is. D is number of atoms of the daughter isotope in the sample. D0 is number of atoms of the daughter isotope in the original composition.
The equation is most conveniently expressed in terms of the measured quantity N t rather than the constant initial value No. I always find it amusing when ignorant laymen try to lecture scientists about their own field of expertise.
I'm reminded of a recent episode of Star Talk where they had a climatologist on as a guest. She noted that climate-change deniers will argue against global warming by pointing out that climate has varied in the past, and she was like: "Yeah, we know: We're the ones that told you this.
Something similar is going on here with radiometric dating: The experts who study this topic extensively point out that sometimes, slight variability is observed in the decay rates of certain elements; creationists seize upon this and they're like: "Aha! What do ya think about this? In fact, that's actually my research that you're citing. Creationists will also argue that several scientific findings prove that radiometric dating is unreliable.
One such finding is that the age of rocks known through observation doesn't actually match up with the radiometrically dated age of rocks. We're told the following in a YouTube video posted by Genesis Apologetics:. Let us explain. Consider Mount St Helens: This volcano erupted in the s, giving scientists the opportunity to date the rocks that were formed from the eruption.
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Five different ages, all betweenand 2. It sounds like pretty powerful evidence when you first hear about it, but the obvious question that needs to be asked is: How trustworthy is the science behind these findings? It turns out that this research is deeply flawed. Kevin R. Henke published a devastating critique of this research on the aptly-named NoAnswersInGenesis.
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One crucial mistake that these creationists made was using the wrong equipment to date their sample. As Henke writes. With less advanced equipment, 'memory effects' can be a problem with very young samples. That is, very tiny amounts of argon contaminants from previous analyses may remain within the equipment, which precludes accurate dates for very young samples.
For older samples, which contain more 40Ar, the contamination is diluted and has insignificant effects. Because all but one of the dates [measured by Austin et al]. Henke points out that:.
Austin's descriptions in the following statements clearly indicate that he FAILED to adequately separate the phenocrysts and possible xenocrysts from the volcanic glass. Austin admits:. So as we can see, there's no good reason to believe that this Mount St Helens rock-age data proves anything more than the incompetency of creationist researchers. I think I actually have an idea of what went wrong here: these creationists, at the outset of their study, had a very good plan in place for how to conduct rigorous analysis on this question; in the course of their research, however, they ended up dropping this plan into the volcanoso they just said "Fuck it" and decided to wing it from that point on.
More examples of similar such discrepancies are cited in a lecture given by creationist Andrew Snelling. During his lecture, he shows this slide which features five examples of the known ages of rocks not matching up with the dated ages of rocks.
Notice that four of the examples show a radiometric age of less than half a million years with the fifth example showing an age of about 1.
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These dates are perfectly in line with the dates we saw in the Mount St Helens study; so perhaps the explanation is, yet again, residual equipment contamination, or foreign rock intrusion? Rather than the dating techniques being flawed, perhaps it's this research that's flawed?
Snelling says the following in his lecture :. The answer is we can't. Or maybe we can if we simply use the correct equipment and remove foreign particles from the sample to minimize contamination? And recall that, as Henke pointed out, this problem of equipment contamination is unique to younger rocks; if we're dealing with rocks that are hundreds of millions of years old, the trace amounts of leftover argon adding a million years or so to the sample is going to have only the tiniest effect on the dated age of the rock.
Let's say the rock is million years old and the trace argon makes it appear million years old; relatively speaking, on a geological timescale, this difference is so minor as to be virtually inconsequential. By the way, I love the potted plants that Snelling has on stage in front of him.
I don't know why, but I kinda like it. It really livens the place up.
And why just stop at plants, while we're at it? Why not have a tortoise or a cockatoo just sort of hanging out on stage with you when you give your lecture? This is the future of public speaking, ladies and gentlemen.
The model K-Ar ages for each of the samples ranged from Furthermore, the seven samples from the small amphibolite unit near Clear Creek, which should all be the same age because they belong to the same metamorphosed basalt lava flow, yielded K-Ar model ages ranging from So basically, samples from one section of rock yielded wildly divergent results. Greg Neyman of Old Earth Ministries-a Christian organization, I might add-points out the very simple problem underlying this study:.
So, what do the [creationist researchers do? So what the creationist is doing here is misapplying these dating techniques and then saying: "See! I told you we couldn't trust these dating techniques. I told you this stuff doesn't get you high. Try tearing out a page from your Bible and rolling a joint with that shit, and then come and talk to me.
Other radiometric dating techniques are available for earlier periods. One of the most widely used is potassium-argon dating (K-Ar dating). Potassium is a radioactive isotope of potassium that decays into argon The half-life of potassium is billion years, far longer than that of carbon, allowing much older samples to be dated. Radiometric dating (often called radioactive dating) is a way to find out how old something thatliz.com method compares the amount of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, in thatliz.com method uses known decay rates. It is the main way to learn the age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself. Radiometric dating (often called radioactive dating) is a way to find out how old something thatliz.com method compares the amount of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, in thatliz.com method uses known decay rates. It is the most used method of geochronology, the main way to learn the age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself.
Creationists will also point to examples where freshly killed animals are carbon-dated as being thousands of years old-thus, we're told, these dating methods cannot be trusted. For example, we read on CreationToday. A freshly killed seal was carbon dated as having died 1, years ago. Kieth and Anderson show considerable evidence that the mussels acquired much of their carbon from the limestone of the waters they lived in and from some very old humus as well.
Carbon from these sources is very low in C because these sources are so old and have not been mixed with fresh carbon from the air. Thus, a freshly killed mussel has far less C than a freshly killed something else, which is why the C dating method makes freshwater mussels seem older than they really are. When dating wood there is no such problem because wood gets its carbon straight from the air, complete with a full dose of C What about the freshly killed seal?
As Talk Origins writes. The seals feed off of animals that live in a nutrient-rich upwelling zone. The water that is upwelling has been traveling along the [ocean] bottom for a few thousand years before surfacing.
The carbon dioxide in it came from the atmosphere before the water sank. Thus, the carbon in the sea water is a couple of thousand years 'old' from when it was in the atmosphere, and its radiocarbon content reflects this time.
Once again, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this discrepancy, and this doesn't justify a wholesale dismissal of radiometric dating. Notice a pattern here? Now you might be saying at this point: If we can't use these dating methods on certain types of rock or animal, it seems to me that they're just not trustworthy.
Understand that nobody is saying radiometric dating works perfectly in every conceivable set of circumstances; as with almost every tool in science, there are certain limitations to radiometric dating-and nobody understands these limitations better than the scientists who use these dating techniques.
As they write on Talk Origins.
Check This Out: Radiometric Dating
By analogy, diagnostic tools in medicine will sometimes generate false positives, where the test results inaccurately indicate that a person has a disease that they don't actually have. This doesn't therefore make these tools completely worthless; it just means that sometimes, they get it wrong-but when properly applied, the techniques will give us the correct answer the vast majority of the time.
The next example is much more tantalizing because it purportedly shows two wildly divergent dates taken from the exact same animal. What could possibly explain this? Eric Hovind, writing for CreationToday. One problem with this quote: It doesn't appear to actually exist-much like God, I might add!
"Radiometric dating has never been validated against the absolute, known ages of rocks. Let us explain. Consider Mount St Helens: This volcano erupted in the s, giving scientists the opportunity to date the rocks that were formed from the eruption. Uranium-lead dating, abbreviated U-Pb dating, is one of the oldest and most refined of the radiometric dating schemes. It can be used to date rocks that formed and crystallised from about 1 million years to over billion years ago with routine precisions in the -1 percent range.
Nowhere does the cited study appear to contain this particular sentence. This means that the direct quote given.
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Secondly, none of the radiocarbon dates for mammoths given in that table are 44, or 29, So not only is the quote a fabrication but the information contained in it is too. How wrong can a single sentence be? As we can see here in the table from the studythe two references to mammoths provide one date of 32, years for the first one, and 21, years for the other. There is no indication whatsoever that these two dates are referring to the same mammoth; in fact, quite the opposite is the case. One is referred to as a baby mammoth, while the other is simply referred to as a mammoth; one is described as being potentially contaminated by glycerine, while the other is not.
On top of that, the two samples were collected years apart! And note that these dates are presented in this table on page 30 of the study-the specific page referenced by Eric Hovind as the source of this quote-so what is going on here?
Did somebody along the line misread this study, misrepresent its findings, and has this inaccuracy just been passed along from creationist to creationist like a game of telephone? Why is a person as prominent as Eric Hovind not making sure that his references actually support what he claims they do?
Perhaps he's just too busy polluting the internet with his mental diarrhea to do a bit of research and reading? Arguably the magnum opus of creationist efforts to refute radiometric dating is what's known as the RATE project, short for Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth.
Among their many vaunted "findings" are the following, described on AnswersInGenesis. Creation scientists suggest that there are two possible times that God supernaturally intervened on a global scale-during Creation Week and the Flood. It is not unreasonable to assume that God used the energy of accelerated radioactive decay to initiate and drive the major geologic changes in the earth that accompanied the Flood.
This is some of the most unreasonable shit I've ever heard! Even from a religious standpoint this makes no sense: What does this say about the idea of a perfect God with a perfect creation plan? What was wrong with his original decay rate? Why did he not create it right the first time around? Did he just screw up and suddenly realize, 2, years in: "Ahh, fuck!
Radiometric dating (often called radioactive dating) is a technique used to date materials such as rocks or carbon, usually based on a comparison between the observed abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, using known decay rates. Zircon (/ ? z ??r k ? n / or / ? z ??r k ?n /) is a mineral belonging to the group of thatliz.com chemical name is zirconium silicate, and its corresponding chemical formula is Zr SiO 4.A common empirical formula showing some of the range of substitution in zircon is (Zr 1-y, REE y)(SiO 4) 1-x (OH) 4x-thatliz.com forms in silicate melts with large proportions of high field Category: Nesosilicates. Radiometric dating is a means of determining the age of very old objects, including the Earth itself. Radiometric dating depends on the decay of isotopes, which are different forms of the same element that include the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons in their atoms.
I knew I was forgetting something! Why the second-guessing of himself? Why even bother with changing the decay rate-and why change it in such a way that creates the perfect misimpression that the earth and universe is much older than it actually is? What could this be if not a massive campaign of deliberate, divine misinformation? And let's be clear about something: The only reason they're positing accelerated rates of decay is to try to square their holy book with the world around them.
Young-earth creationists believe, on the basis of what they read in the Bible, that the Earth is 6, years old; this is the core reason that they try to undermine the validity of radiometric dating and this is why they go to the absurd length of positing accelerated rates of radiometric decay.
They see the contradiction and conclude that the radiometric dating methods must be the problem-not their holy book-and they have this completely backwards. Answers In Genesis writes that:.
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This is a pretty obvious case of trying to torture and contort the data into agreeing with your preconceived conclusions-as opposed to simply basing your conclusions off of whatever it is that the evidence shows. The special pleading in such claims is glaring. Why on Earth should the laws of physics change, just like that, so massively and so conveniently?
And it glares even more when you have to make mutually adjusted special pleading claims for each one of the clocks separately.