How accurate is radioactive dating of materials

If they disagree, it may be because lead has been lost at some point in the history of the sample, for example, if there was an episode of heating above 1000 degrees C.(The mineralogy of zircon makes it highly unlikely that either any uranium is lost from the crystal or that any lead was in the crystal to begin with.) To deal with this possibility, an independent measurement is made from several points in the sample.However, in doing so, we have, consciously or subconsciously, made a number of assumptions about other factors that could have affected the calculations.Unless these factors are known, the calculated dates will not be reliable.Suppose we have a tank partly filled with water, and a hole in the bottom through which the water is leaking out of the tank.

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At other times an additional measurement can eliminate the need for one assumption, although no science can be done without assumptions at some level.Given the complexity of radioactive dating, confirmation bias can also be a problem.This arises when the person performing the analysis has a strong expectation of what the result should be.The procedure, however, is difficult, and many tests have shown that it can be inaccurate, and it is at times not even considered reliable by mainstream scientists.

It is impossible to measure the age of something, except to time it as it actually occurs, so radioactive dating methods calculate the age, based on (i) measurements of quantities of specified materials, (ii) measurements of decay rates, and (iii) assumptions about the history of the sample.

Given this confirmation of the confounding factor, the line of observations may be extended until it intersects the curve consisting of the possible values without loss of lead. A variation of this method is also known as lead-lead dating.