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28 Jul

Certainly not enough to justify the incredibly unscientific extrapolation necessary in an old-earth framework.As someone who has studied radioactivity in detail, I have always been a bit amused by the assertion that radioactive 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 bars.Sr-86 diffuses more quickly than Sr-87, and that has never been taken into account when isochrons are analyzed. Perhaps, but it’s rather tricky, because the rate of diffusion depends on the specific chemical and physical environment of each individual rock.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. If you believe the earth is very old, then most likely, all of the radioactive dates based on isochrons are probably overestimates. I have no idea, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. Hayes’s model indicates it could add as much as 29 billion years to ages determined with rubidium and strontium, although his model is rather simplistic.

Was Rb-87 or Sr-87 added to the rock by some unknown process?

Was one of them removed from the rock by some unknown process?

Their age was measured to be 6.0 /- 0.3 billion years old. Those who are committed to an ancient age for the earth currently believe that it is 4.6 billion years old.

Obviously, then, the error in that measurement is 1.4 billion years, not 0.3 billion years!

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. I suspect that this flaw is not the last one that will be uncovered.

Such uncertainties are usually glossed over, especially when radioactive dates are communicated to the public and, more importantly, to students.