Isotope dating accuracy

Rated 4.54/5 based on 921 customer reviews

To date a radioactive rock, geologists first measure the “sand grains” in the top glass bowl (the parent radioisotope, such as uranium-238 or potassium-40).

They also measure the sand grains in the bottom bowl (the daughter isotope, such as lead-206 or argon-40, respectively).

Part 2 explains how scientists run into problems when they make assumptions about what happened .

An hourglass is a helpful analogy to explain how geologists calculate the ages of rocks.

The current standard age assigned to the solar system of 4.6 billion years was determined by studying the Uranium-to-Lead decay systems in meteorites, which are assumed to have formed before the planets did.

I do understand that radioisotope decay is modeled exponentially, and that a majority of this dating technique is centered in probability.

The margin for error, as I see it presently, cannot be small.

This intuition has been taken by mathematicians and carried to its more difficult to understand, and convoluted, but logical extreme.

It turns out that the larger the number of random events, the more the system as a whole will be close to the average you’d expect.

Leave a Reply