How to radiometric dating

The new atom doesn't form the same kinds of chemical bonds that the old one did. It may not even be able to hold the parent atom's place in the compound it finds itself in, which results in an immediate breaking of the chemical bonds that hold the atom to the others in the mineral. (The exact details of this are rather complicated, so I won't go into them here.) When the number of electrons change, the shell structure changes too.

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If an element has more than one isotope present, and a mineral forms in a magma melt that includes that element, the element's different isotopes will appear in the mineral in precisely the same ratio that they occurred in the environment where and when the mineral was formed. The third and final axiom is that when an atom undergoes radioactive decay, its internal structure and also its chemical behavior change.

Losing or gaining atomic number puts the atom in a different row of the periodic table, and elements in different rows behave in different ways. Well, an atom's chemical activity pattern is a result of its electron shell structure.

The vast majority of carbon atoms, about 98.89%, are C12. And since carbon is an essential element in living organisms, C14 appears in all terrestrial (landbound) living organisms in the same proportions it appears in the atmosphere. Animals and fungi get C14 from the plant or animal tissue they eat for food. The C14 already in the organism doesn't stop decaying, so as time goes on there is less and less C14 left in the organism's remains.

If we measure how much C14 there currently is, we can tell how much there was when the organism died, and therefore how much has decayed.

Radiometric dating methods are the strongest direct evidence that geologists have for the age of the Earth.

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.

Some isotopes can break down in more than one way -- in these cases, each different breakdown type has its own half-life.

The decay rate and therefore the half-life are fixed characteristics of an isotope. That's the first axiom of radiometric dating techniques: the half-life of a given isotope is a constant.

However, after a few years a number of scientists got suspicious of this assumption, because dates obtained by the C14 method weren't tallying with dates obtained by other means.

A long series of studies of C14 content produced an equally long series of corrective factors that must be taken into account when using C14 dating.

The second assumption is that the organism in question got its carbon from the atmosphere.

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