Radiometric dating establishes the age of the earth as. How is Earth's Age Calculated?.



Radiometric dating establishes the age of the earth as

Radiometric dating establishes the age of the earth as

Reference to a case where the given method did not work This is perhaps the most common objection of all. Creationists point to instances where a given method produced a result that is clearly wrong, and then argue that therefore all such dates may be ignored.

Such an argument fails on two counts: First, an instance where a method fails to work does not imply that it does not ever work.

The question is not whether there are "undatable" objects, but rather whether or not all objects cannot be dated by a given method.

The fact that one wristwatch has failed to keep time properly cannot be used as a justification for discarding all watches. How many creationists would see the same time on five different clocks and then feel free to ignore it?

Yet, when five radiometric dating methods agree on the age of one of the Earth's oldest rock formations Dalrymple , p. The claim that the methods produce bad results essentially at random does not explain why these "bad results" are so consistently in line with mainstream science. Claims that the assumptions of a method may be violated Certain requirements are involved with all radiometric dating methods.

These generally include constancy of decay rate and lack of contamination gain or loss of parent or daughter isotope. Creationists often attack these requirements as "unjustified assumptions," though they are really neither "unjustified" nor "assumptions" in most cases. Rates of radiometric decay the ones relevant to radiometric dating are thought to be based on rather fundamental properties of matter, such as the probability per unit time that a certain particle can "tunnel" out of the nucleus of the atom.

The nucleus is well-insulated and therefore is relatively immune to larger-scale effects such as pressure or temperature. Significant changes to rates of radiometric decay of isotopes relevant to geological dating have never been observed under any conditions.

Emery is a comprehensive survey of experimental results and theoretical limits on variation of decay rates. For the case of alpha decay, [ You will find a simple explanation in any elementary quantum mechanics textbook; for example, Ohanion's Principles of Quantum Mechanics has a nice example of alpha decay on page The fact that the process is probabilistic, and the exponential dependence on time, are straightforward consequences of quantum mechanics.

The time dependence is a case of "Fermi's golden rule" see, for example, page of Ohanion. An exact computation of decay rates is, of course, much more complicated, since it requires a detailed understanding of the shape of the potential barrier. In principle, this is computable from quantum chromodynamics, but in practice the computation is much too complex to be done in the near future.

There are, however, reliable approximations available, and in addition the shape of the potential can be measured experimentally. For beta decay, the underlying fundamental theory is different; one begins with electroweak theory for which Glashow, Weinberg and Salam won their Nobel prize rather than quantum chromodynamics. As described above, the process of radioactive decay is predicated on rather fundamental properties of matter. In order to explain old isotopic ages on a young Earth by means of accelerated decay, an increase of six to ten orders of magnitude in rates of decay would be needed depending on whether the acceleration was spread out over the entire pre-Flood period, or accomplished entirely during the Flood.

So there has been a lot of creative work on how to look for evidence of such changes. A nice technical summary is given by Sisterna and Vucetich Among the phenomena they look at are: While it is not obvious, each of these observations is sensitive to changes in the physical constants that control radioactive decay. For example, a change in the strength of weak interactions which govern beta decay would have different effects on the binding energy, and therefore the gravitational attraction, of different elements.

Similarly, such changes in binding energy would affect orbital motion, while more directly changes in interaction strengths would affect the spectra we observe in distant stars. The observations are a mixture of very sensitive laboratory tests, which do not go very far back in time but are able to detect extremely small changes, and astronomical observations, which are somewhat less precise but which look back in time.

Remember that processes we observe in a star a million light years away are telling us about physics a million years ago. While any single observation is subject to debate about methodology, the combined results of such a large number of independent tests are hard to argue with.

The overall result is that no one has found any evidence of changes in fundamental constants, to an accuracy of about one part in per year.

The limits placed are somewhere between ten and twenty orders of magnitude below the changes which would be necessary to accommodate the apparent age of the Earth within the young-Earth timescale by means of accelerated decay. This is addressed in the most detail in the Isochron Dating FAQ , for all of the methods discussed in the "age of the Earth" part of this FAQ are isochron or equivalent methods, which have a check built in that detect most forms of contamination.

It is true that some dating methods e. For this reason, the results of such dating methods are not treated with as much confidence. Also, similarly to item 1 above, pleas to contamination do not address the fact that radiometric results are nearly always in agreement with old-Earth expectations.

If the methods were producing completely "haywire" results essentially at random, such a pattern of concordant results would not be expected. Suggested Further Reading An excellent, detailed exposition of the means by which the Earth's age is known, as well as the history of attempts to estimate that value, is given in Dalrymple This book is a must-read for anyone who wishes to critique mainstream methods for dating the Earth.

A review of this book in the young-Earth creationist journal Origins Brown includes the following text: In my opinion, the defense of such a position is a losing battle. Brown believes life on Earth and the geological column to be young, but argues that a proper reading of Genesis allows the Earth itself to be much older. The best in my opinion is Dalrymple Brush and Dalrymple are also very good. Writings by old-Earth creationists demonstrate that argument for an old Earth is quite possible without "assumption of evolution.

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Radiometric Dating - Geological Time (6/6)



Radiometric dating establishes the age of the earth as

Reference to a case where the given method did not work This is perhaps the most common objection of all. Creationists point to instances where a given method produced a result that is clearly wrong, and then argue that therefore all such dates may be ignored. Such an argument fails on two counts: First, an instance where a method fails to work does not imply that it does not ever work. The question is not whether there are "undatable" objects, but rather whether or not all objects cannot be dated by a given method.

The fact that one wristwatch has failed to keep time properly cannot be used as a justification for discarding all watches. How many creationists would see the same time on five different clocks and then feel free to ignore it? Yet, when five radiometric dating methods agree on the age of one of the Earth's oldest rock formations Dalrymple , p. The claim that the methods produce bad results essentially at random does not explain why these "bad results" are so consistently in line with mainstream science.

Claims that the assumptions of a method may be violated Certain requirements are involved with all radiometric dating methods. These generally include constancy of decay rate and lack of contamination gain or loss of parent or daughter isotope. Creationists often attack these requirements as "unjustified assumptions," though they are really neither "unjustified" nor "assumptions" in most cases.

Rates of radiometric decay the ones relevant to radiometric dating are thought to be based on rather fundamental properties of matter, such as the probability per unit time that a certain particle can "tunnel" out of the nucleus of the atom.

The nucleus is well-insulated and therefore is relatively immune to larger-scale effects such as pressure or temperature.

Significant changes to rates of radiometric decay of isotopes relevant to geological dating have never been observed under any conditions. Emery is a comprehensive survey of experimental results and theoretical limits on variation of decay rates. For the case of alpha decay, [ You will find a simple explanation in any elementary quantum mechanics textbook; for example, Ohanion's Principles of Quantum Mechanics has a nice example of alpha decay on page The fact that the process is probabilistic, and the exponential dependence on time, are straightforward consequences of quantum mechanics.

The time dependence is a case of "Fermi's golden rule" see, for example, page of Ohanion. An exact computation of decay rates is, of course, much more complicated, since it requires a detailed understanding of the shape of the potential barrier. In principle, this is computable from quantum chromodynamics, but in practice the computation is much too complex to be done in the near future.

There are, however, reliable approximations available, and in addition the shape of the potential can be measured experimentally.

For beta decay, the underlying fundamental theory is different; one begins with electroweak theory for which Glashow, Weinberg and Salam won their Nobel prize rather than quantum chromodynamics. As described above, the process of radioactive decay is predicated on rather fundamental properties of matter. In order to explain old isotopic ages on a young Earth by means of accelerated decay, an increase of six to ten orders of magnitude in rates of decay would be needed depending on whether the acceleration was spread out over the entire pre-Flood period, or accomplished entirely during the Flood.

So there has been a lot of creative work on how to look for evidence of such changes. A nice technical summary is given by Sisterna and Vucetich Among the phenomena they look at are: While it is not obvious, each of these observations is sensitive to changes in the physical constants that control radioactive decay. For example, a change in the strength of weak interactions which govern beta decay would have different effects on the binding energy, and therefore the gravitational attraction, of different elements.

Similarly, such changes in binding energy would affect orbital motion, while more directly changes in interaction strengths would affect the spectra we observe in distant stars. The observations are a mixture of very sensitive laboratory tests, which do not go very far back in time but are able to detect extremely small changes, and astronomical observations, which are somewhat less precise but which look back in time.

Remember that processes we observe in a star a million light years away are telling us about physics a million years ago. While any single observation is subject to debate about methodology, the combined results of such a large number of independent tests are hard to argue with. The overall result is that no one has found any evidence of changes in fundamental constants, to an accuracy of about one part in per year.

The limits placed are somewhere between ten and twenty orders of magnitude below the changes which would be necessary to accommodate the apparent age of the Earth within the young-Earth timescale by means of accelerated decay. This is addressed in the most detail in the Isochron Dating FAQ , for all of the methods discussed in the "age of the Earth" part of this FAQ are isochron or equivalent methods, which have a check built in that detect most forms of contamination.

It is true that some dating methods e. For this reason, the results of such dating methods are not treated with as much confidence. Also, similarly to item 1 above, pleas to contamination do not address the fact that radiometric results are nearly always in agreement with old-Earth expectations. If the methods were producing completely "haywire" results essentially at random, such a pattern of concordant results would not be expected. Suggested Further Reading An excellent, detailed exposition of the means by which the Earth's age is known, as well as the history of attempts to estimate that value, is given in Dalrymple This book is a must-read for anyone who wishes to critique mainstream methods for dating the Earth.

A review of this book in the young-Earth creationist journal Origins Brown includes the following text: In my opinion, the defense of such a position is a losing battle. Brown believes life on Earth and the geological column to be young, but argues that a proper reading of Genesis allows the Earth itself to be much older.

The best in my opinion is Dalrymple Brush and Dalrymple are also very good. Writings by old-Earth creationists demonstrate that argument for an old Earth is quite possible without "assumption of evolution.

Radiometric dating establishes the age of the earth as

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3 Comments

  1. For example, a change in the strength of weak interactions which govern beta decay would have different effects on the binding energy, and therefore the gravitational attraction, of different elements.

  2. This article looks in great detail at the. What assumptions are involved in radiometric dating? There has been no loss or gain of the parent or daughter isotopes from the rock.

  3. If the methods were producing completely "haywire" results essentially at random, such a pattern of concordant results would not be expected. It showed that elements generally exist in multiple variants with different masses, or " isotopes ".

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