The first is that atoms have always decayed at the same rate.And this isn’t really an assumption as the decay rates have been tested in the laboratory for a hundred years or so, we have an example of a natural nuclear reactor where we can measure the various products and determine the decay rates (and the fine structure constant), and we can observe the past by looking deep into the past of the universe. The sigh isn’t for the effort of writing, it’s for the effort of finding all the references.Part 1 (in the previous issue) explained how scientists observe unstable atoms changing into stable atoms in the present.Part 2 explains how scientists run into problems when they make assumptions about what happened .For decades, the biologists have boldly proclaimed that, whereas we cannot observe today one type of creature evolving into a totally different type of creature, “Time is the hero of the plot. No one even bothers to ask what assumptions drive the conclusions.
Do you honestly think that no one has done anything about it? By making thousands (if not millions) of these adjustments we get a very good idea of how old a piece of unknown material can be. The 2009 calibration set extends the ‘well calibrated range’ to 50,000 years using the varves in a Japanese lake. This is unlike the creationists which think it happened, but can’t be bothered to check.Most people today think that geologists have proven the earth and its rocks to be billions of years old by their use of the radioactive dating methods. Given so much time, the ‘impossible’ becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain.Ages of many millions of years for rocks and fossils are glibly presented as fact in many textbooks, the popular media, and museums. One has only to wait: time itself performs the miracles.”1 Yet few people seem to know how these radiometric dating methods work.Scientists, using rigorous methods have established a process to eliminate this problem by calibrating radiocarbon dating results to items of a known age.In this way, items of unknown age can be tested and an age determined to a reasonable degree of accuracy. More tomorrow where we explore the concept of isochron dating and how it neatly destroys most of the rest of these ‘issues’.Young-Earth creationists -- that is, creationists who believe that Earth is no more than 10,000 years old -- are fond of attacking radiometric dating methods as being full of inaccuracies and riddled with sources of error.When I first became interested in the creation-evolution debate, in late 1994, I looked around for sources that clearly and simply explained what radiometric dating is and why young-Earth creationists are driven to discredit it.Protons and neutrons together are called nucleons, meaning particles that can appear in the atomic nucleus.A nuclide of an element, also called an isotope of an element, is an atom of that element that has a specific number of nucleons.The rules are the same in all cases; the assumptions are different for each method.To explain those rules, I'll need to talk about some basic atomic physics. Hydrogen-1's nucleus consists of only a single proton.