Protons and neutrons together are called nucleons, meaning particles that can appear in the atomic nucleus.A nuclide of an element, also called an isotope of an element, is an atom of that element that has a specific number of nucleons.Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artifacts.Different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied.In a related article on geologic ages (Ages), we presented a chart with the various geologic eras and their ages.In a separate article (Radiometric dating), we sketched in some technical detail how these dates are calculated using radiometric dating techniques.Here is one example of an isochron, based on measurements of basaltic meteorites (in this case the resulting date is 4.4 billion years) [Basaltic1981, pg. Skeptics of old-earth geology make great hay of these examples.For example, creationist writer Henry Morris [Morris2000, pg.
This belief in long ages for the earth and the existence of life is derived largely from radiometric dating.
Young-Earth creationists -- that is, creationists who believe that Earth is no more than 10,000 years old -- are fond of attacking radiometric dating methods as being full of inaccuracies and riddled with sources of error.
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.
These long time periods are computed by measuring the ratio of daughter to parent substance in a rock and inferring an age based on this ratio.
This age is computed under the assumption that the parent substance (say, uranium) gradually decays to the daughter substance (say, lead), so the higher the ratio of lead to uranium, the older the rock must be.