# How accurate is radioactive isotope dating

If the observed rate is correct, then the shadow on our sundial should move from 1 PM to 2 PM in the same amount of time it takes for the hourglass to empty.

As I type on my laptop calibrated to satellite-based clocks, I use these ‘primitive’ examples because of their inherent uncertainties and relevance to radiometric dating.

Regardless, even Snelling recognizes that multiple independent methods consistently tell us the Earth is billions—The grains of sand have to pass one after another, therefore time exists.

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Just like calibrating an hourglass, where sand falls at a constant rate, experimental observers might begin by trying to count directly how much sand falls each second (i.e. If 1 gram of sand falls per second, and the hourglass contains 3.6 kg of sand, then it should take exactly 1 hour (3,600 seconds) for all the sand to drain from top to bottom.

Once this rate is observed over a limited period of time, we can test the accuracy of our observation by extrapolation and/or comparing it to other timekeeping methods, such as a sundial.

After one half-life has elapsed, one half of the atoms of the nuclide in question will have decayed into a "daughter" nuclide, or decay product.

In many cases, the daughter nuclide is radioactive, resulting in a decay chain.

The different methods of radiometric dating are accurate over different timescales, and they are useful for different materials.The man's body was recovered and pieces of tissue were studied for their C content by accelerator mass spectroscopy.The best estimate from this dating technique says the man lived between 33 BC. From the ratio, the time since the formation of the rock can be calculated.The technique of comparing the abundance ratio of a radioactive isotope to a reference isotope to determine the age of a material is called radioactive dating.Many isotopes have been studied, probing a wide range of time scales.

It is the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself, and it can be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.

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