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Some have said that young-earth creationists will not be convinced of the scientific ages of the earth and fossils until they can measure these dates with their own hands. As mentioned above, radiometric dating methods are the basis for the figures in the detailed charts of the geologic ages, an abbreviated version of which is shown above.

But radiometric methods are also used heavily in day-to-day research in paleontology and evolutionary biology, in order to test certain hypotheses.

If all we have is one data point, the formula above doesn't help much more than the original formula.

But if we have multiple data points -- multiple measurements of different samples say within a single igneous rock, then these should all lie on a straight line, whose slope m is simply related to the age of the specimen by the formula m = e; instead, this original ratio actually comes out as a result of the calculation!

The corresponding dates obtained from these isochrons (based on the slopes of the lines), together with statistical standard deviations, are: 4.396 ± 0.18, 3.673 ± 0.014, 2.991 ± 0.15, and 4.478 ± 0.034 (each figure is in billions of years). But with the advent of mass spectrometry beginning in the 1970s, even very small samples can now be accurately dated.

For example, the "SHRIMP" ion microprobe now in use in numerous laboratories around the world can reliably measure U-Pb and Pb-Pb ages from spots only 0.02 mm (i.e., 20 micrometers) in size within a zircon crystal [Dalrymple2004, pg. It should be emphasized, though, that even relatively unsophisticated equipment can perform radiometric measurements of dates fairly well.

This technique, which is used in virtually all disciplines of modern social science, physical science and engineering, is entirely straightforward, and computer software is widely available to do the requisite calculations and, in fact, is built in to most spreadsheet programs.

An important fact is that linear regression, in addition to giving the best fit of the slope of the line (which then leads immediately to the date), also gives a statistical confidence interval as to the possible error in the determination of the slope.

However, usually it is not possible to apply this formula directly, because, for instance, in many cases we do not know the original amount of the radioactive isotope when the rock was solidified.

Also, such a calculation does not provide us with any statistical error margin to double-check the result.

A related article on the age of the earth and geologic ages presented the current best known values for these dates: Ages.

The figures shown in that article are based on radiometric dating.

As mentioned above, the isochron dating method boils down to plotting multiple data points, after some calculation, on a graph, which, if the measurements and calculations are done properly, should lie on a straight line, or very nearly on a straight line.

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