For example, in the The decay constant has dimensions of reciprocal seconds.
In the special case in which parent and daughter atoms are present in equal quantities, the age of the specimen is the half-life of the parent isotope: The first assumption, that the amount of the daughter isotope in the original rock is known, is the weakest assumption.
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The proportion of argon to radioactive potassium in the sample today is observable, and the decay constant of potassium is readily calculable by measuring the amount of argon produced from the decay of K after a specified time.
But the age of the rock and the proportion of argon to radio-potassium in the sample originally are not observable.
As any first-year student of algebra soon learns, a single equation with two unknown variables cannot be solved.
Radiometric dating utilizes the decay rates of certain radioactive atoms to date rocks or artifacts.
Uniformitarian geologists consider this form of dating strong evidence that the Earth is billions of years old.
But new research by creationists has revealed a large number of problems with radiometric dating.
In some cases such as Carbon-14 dating, radioactive dating actually gives strong evidence for a young Earth.
Other methods such as Potassium-argon dating and Isochron dating are based on faulty assumptions and so unreliable as to be useless.
Many atoms (or elements) exist as numerous varieties called isotopes, some of which are radioactive, meaning they decay over time by losing particles.