It might take a millisecond, or it might take a century. But if you have a large enough sample, a pattern begins to emerge.
It takes a certain amount of time for half the atoms in a sample to decay.
For example, an object with a quarter of its original amount (2x1/2) should be roughly 11,460 years old.
In all radiometric procedures there is a specific age range for when a technique can be used.
he question of the ages of the Earth and its rock formations and features has fascinated philosophers, theologians, and scientists for centuries, primarily because the answers put our lives in temporal perspective.
Until the 18th century, this question was principally in the hands of theologians, who based their calculations on biblical chronology.
It then takes the same amount of time for half the remaining radioactive atoms to decay, and the same amount of time for half of those remaining radioactive atoms to decay, and so on. The amount of time it takes for one-half of a sample to decay is called the half-life of the isotope, and it’s given the symbol: It’s important to realize that the half-life decay of radioactive isotopes is not linear.
For example, creationist writer Henry Morris [Morris2000, pg.
The latest high-tech equipment permits reliable results to be obtained even with microscopic samples.
Radiometric dating is self-checking, because the data (after certain preliminary calculations are made) are fitted to a straight line (an "isochron") by means of standard linear regression methods of statistics.
The slope of the line determines the date, and the closeness of fit is a measure of the statistical reliability of the resulting date.
Technical details on how these dates are calculated are given in Radiometric dating. As with any experimental procedure in any field of science, these measurements are subject to certain "glitches" and "anomalies," as noted in the literature.