In beta decay, a neutron turns into a proton by emitting a beta particle, which is an electron click for credit. As someone who has studied radioactivity in detail, I have always been a bit amused by the assertion that "Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym" dating is a precise way to determine the age of an object.
This false notion is often promoted when radioactive dates are listed with utterly unrealistic error Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym. In this reportfor example, we are told that using one radioactive dating technique, a lunar rock sample is 4, million years old, plus or minus 23 million years old. Of course, that error estimate is complete nonsense.
It refers to one specific source of error — the uncertainty in the measurement of the amounts of various atoms used in the analysis. Most likely, that is the least important source of error. If those rocks really have been sitting around on the moon for billions of years, I suspect that the the wide range of physical and chemical processes which occurred over that time period had a much more profound effect on the uncertainty of the age determination.
This is best illustrated by the radioactive age of a sample of diamonds from Zaire.
Their age was measured to be 6. Do you see the problem? Those who are committed to an ancient age for the earth currently believe that it is 4. Obviously, then, the minimum error in that measurement is 1.
Such uncertainties are usually glossed over, especially when radioactive dates are communicated to the public and, Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym importantly, to students. 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. However, a recent paper by Dr. Hayes has pointed out a problem with isochrons that has, until now, not been considered.
The elements rubidium and strontium are found in many rocks. One form of rubidium Rb is radioactive. As illustrated above, a neutron in a Rb atom can eject an electron often called a beta particlewhich has a negative charge.
Since a neutron has no charge, it must become positively charged after emitting an electron. In fact, it becomes a proton. This changes the chemical identity of the atom. It is no longer Rb; it is strontium Sr Sr is not radioactive, so the change is permanent. We know how long it takes Rb to turn into Sr, so in principle, if we analyze the amount of Rb and Sr in a rock, we should be able to
Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym how long the decay has been occurring.
Of course, there are all sorts of uncertainties involved. How much Sr was in the rock when it first formed? Was Rb or Sr added to the rock by some unknown "Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym" Was one of them removed from the rock by some unknown process? The isochron is supposed to take care of such issues. Essentially, rather than looking at the amounts of Rb and Sr, we look at Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym ratios compared to Sr The ratio of Sr to Sr is graphed versus the ratio of Rb to Sr for several different parts of the rock.
How does that help? Thus, it provides an independent analysis of the rock that does not depend on the radioactive decay that is being studied. The amount of Sr that was already in the rock when it formed, for example, should be proportional to the amount of Sr that is currently there.
Since the data are divided by the amount of Sr, the initial amount of Sr is cancelled out in the analysis.
He says that there is one process that has been overlooked in all these isochron analyses: Atoms and molecules naturally move around, and they do so in such as way as to even out their concentrations.
A helium balloon, for example, will deflate over time, because the helium atoms diffuse through the balloon and into the surrounding air. Well, diffusion depends on the mass of the thing that is diffusing. Sr diffuses more quickly than Sr, and "Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym" has never been taken into account when isochrons are analyzed.
Hayes has brought it up, we can take it into account, right?
If the effects of diffusion can be taken into account, it will require an elaborate model that will most certainly require elaborate assumptions. Hayes suggests a couple of other approaches that might work, but its not clear how well. So what does this mean? If you believe the earth is very old, then most likely, all of the radioactive dates based on isochrons are probably overestimates. How bad are the overestimates?
Most likely, the effect will be dependent on the age. I would think that the older the sample, the larger the overestimate. As a young-earth creationist, I look at this issue in a different way. Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym not enough to justify the incredibly unscientific extrapolation necessary in an old-earth framework.
This newly-pointed-out flaw in the isochron method is a stark reminder of that. A good isochron was supposed to be rock-solid evidence pun intended that the radioactive date is reliable. We now know that it is not. Wile, I was waiting for you to comment on this, because I wanted to ask if you think this problem Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym be extrapolated to other isotopes such as lead and argon.
If so, it seems to be a pretty big deal. As I said, carbon dating is an exception, but most other modern radiometric dates are produced using an isochron.
Are the samples we see in the RATE study, for example, just anomalies, existing on the ends of the bell curve, or are these indicative of an endemic misunderstanding of the process?
Are there any theories that could account for the accelerated decay rate or how the daughters could have gotten in to the samples? Thus, any significant amount of daughter product will produce a very old date. In my view, if two different dating schemes give significantly different answers, then either one of them is wrong or both of them are wrong.
Scientists exclude what we think are anomalous data all the time. Unfortunately, that discarded data might be what gives us real insight. Young-earth creationists have a hard time explaining the general results of long-lived isotopes and their daughter products being present.
On the other side, old-earthers have a hard time explaining all the discordance. If radioactive dating is so reliable, why do different methods yield different results? Why are some of those differences really, really large?
As is often the case, there are problems on both sides. The side you end up coming down on often depends on which problems you most comfortable trying to deal with. Physicists already theorize that dark matter would affect nuclear decay rates; what if the leftover energy went to the dark matter? The heat problem occurs everywhere there are radioactive isotopes, so throughout the crust and mantle of the earth, for example. The dark matter would have to be there in order to take the Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym. You can think of dark matter here as a lot like the luminiferous ether: Since its interaction with normal matter is incredibly weak, it can very easily pass through the earth.
Not to mention that different models of dark matter would lead to different interactions. Are we able to calculate the mass of the earth from our knowledge of its contents, and not just the gravitational force we detect?
I think if there were much dark matter in the earth, it would be noticeable. We also know the overall composition of the crust and mantle from samples. Thus, the only real unknown is the composition of the core. Using the mass and all those other measurements, we deduce that the core is mostly iron with some nickel.
I fear it is Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym a matter of philosophy rather than hard science: The problem with that, is that, in the first case, there appear to be no transitional fossils when there should be millionsand to make the assumption previously herein stated, evolutionary conclusions are more akin to a combination of wishful thinking combined with a sympathetic magic mindset, than to observable examples.
Evolution is taught as established fact, and scientific enquiry is severely trammelled by those who prefer a status quo.
Every fossil between organisms alive now and abiogenesis is a transitional fossil, Tony. There are also transitional fossils and organisms in the misguided definition of the word you are using. I admire your faith, Cromwell. Yet you Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym it as fact. Then, you claim that all fossils are a transition between that unrealistic event and the life we see now.
Thanks for writing an informative article. Error bars have their place, but you are correct in pointing out that they are often misunderstood not only by the general public, but by scientists who are not savvy in radiometric dating.
I would have worded this sentence differently: I am not convinced that differential diffusion of isotopes will be all that significant.
After all, fractionation of light elements, such as oxygen, provides us with all sorts of insights into geologic processes because the mass difference between O and O is rather significant, whereas the mass "Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym" between Sr and Sr is not all that great, in terms of ratios.
The differences are even Radioisotope dating assumptions synonym significant for more massive isotopes such as in samarium-neodymium dating Nd and Nd If fractionation does turn out to be important for isochrons, one would expect that there would be a trend, with lighter nuclides e.
Rb-Sr being more affected than heavier nuclides e.