If someone collects a sample, brings it to a laboratory for radiometric testing and gets scientific results, the answer is a ratio of parent isotope to daughter isotope. That is it, plain and simple.
My apologies to those who follow our blog regularly, but this is a somewhat of a repeat. I believe that one of my errors is attempting to cover too much territory in one blog, so this is just one point.
We are assuming that the samples were collected properly, handled properly and tested properly. There was no falsification of the data, either intentionally or accidentally. If pieces of the same samples where taken to another reputable laboratory, we would get the same results.
The results would be the ratio of parent isotope to daughter isotope. It might be simplified 25:75 meaning twenty-five percent of the sample was the parent isotope and the remaining seventy-five percent of the sample was the daughter isotope.
With better equipment, the result might be more precise, such as 24.543:75.457. Whatever the precision of the test equipment, the final result is still a ratio. What do those ratios mean?
A simple Google search of geology.com reveals the following quote. “Certainly we all know that there were different conditions in the Precambrian, which makes up 88% of all geologic time. We know that the interior of the early Earth was much hotter than that of today, for a number of reasons. For example, heat production due to radioactive decay at 4 Ga was ~3x that of today. Other causes of early heating include heat of accretion, the Sun’s T-tauri event (beginning of H fusion), core differentiation, and the Mars-size impact events. How much hotter was the early Earth? We don’t know but we do know that there are vanishingly few rocks from the first 800 Ma of Earth’s history, as expected for a hot early Earth.”
When did Plate Tectonics begin on Earth, and what came before?
Posted by geosociety under Structural Geology and Tectonics
This quote is used because of the first four words “Certainly we know…” How is it possible to know about the Precambrian period? The other important point is that this is not an isolated comment. While I found this in geology.com., similar certainty about dating samples that are pronounced to be millions of years old can be found in genetics.com, nationalgeographics.com, nature.com, scientificamerican.com and any other mainstream science journal.
When asked, “How did you arrive at these dates?” the answer is usually, “radiometric dating”. Since, as this article started out, properly conducted radiometric tests return ratios, not dates, how do these ratios turn into dates? In other words, we are back to the question, what do these ratios mean?
All radiometric dating methods depend on radioactive decay taking place at a known, constant rate. For example, the known constant of Uranium235 to Lead is a half-life of 703.8 million years. That means, if the original sample of Uranium235 was one hundred percent, and the sample at the time of testing was 50%, then the sample would be 703.8 million years old. It would take another 703.8 million years to convert half of the remaining Uranium235 to lead. So a sample that had 25% Uranium235 and 75% lead would have gone through two half lives and would be 1407.6 million years old. It is a simple progression and easily charted. Half of the remaining 25% of the Uranium235 would be converted to lead in another 703.8 million years. So the ratio can tell you how far down the chart your sample is.
And that look-up point on the chart is the date published in the science journals. According to “Science” today, that is the end of the story. But this article is what Paul Harvey used to call “the rest of the story.”
For our example sample to actually be 1407.6 million years old, two assumptions must be true. First, the sample began as 100% Uranium235 1407.6 million years ago, without any lead. Second, nothing happened to change the rate of decay during that 1407.6 million year time period.
In answer to the uniformitarian complaint that nothing can interfere with the rate of decay, measure the radiation levels around the Bikini atolls, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, or any other high radiation site. Laboratories all over the world refine radioactive isotopes. Laboratories can also covert one material to another, such as converting uranium to plutonium.
The uniformitarian response is that such an alteration in nuclear decay rates would cause mass extinction. (Such as the flood?) Even uniformitarians admit to several mass extinctions, such as the end of the Devonian period. Mass extinctions happened and almost certainly altered global decay rates.
But the important problem to the uniformitarian is the preschool question, “Were you there?” We have no information about, nor is it possible to get, any information about the original condition of the sample.
In the beginning God created. This is the real answer. It neither requires vast amounts of time nor knowing every possible change in every possible sample. This simple answer confounds those who want the world to be millions of years old because they do not want to be responsible to a holy God.
Illustration source: Wikimedia Commons Diagram of the thorium decay chain from lead-212 to lead-208. Each parent nuclide spontaneously decays into a daughter nuclide (the decay product) via an α decay or a β− decay. Note that bismuth-212 can either decay into polonium-212 or thallium-208. The final decay product, lead-208, is stable and can no longer undergo spontaneous radioactive decay. This image was created as part of the Philip Greenspun illustration project. Date 25 August 2008
Source: Own work Author Eugene Alvin Villar (seav)