# Radiometric dating practice questions

We are told that of all the radiometric dates that are measured, only a few percent are anomalous.

This gives us the impression that all but a small percentage of the dates computed by radiometric methods agree with the assumed ages of the rocks in which they are found, and that all of these various methods almost always give ages that agree with each other to within a few percentage points.

How radiometric dating works in general Why methods in general are inaccurate Why K-Ar dating is inaccurate The branching ratio problem How Errors Can Account for the Observed Dates Why older dates would be found lower in the geologic column especially for K-Ar dating Do different methods agree with each other on the geologic column?

Possible other sources of correlation Anomalies of radiometric dating Why a low anomaly percentage is meaningless The biostrategraphic limits issue Preponderance of K-Ar dating Excuses for anomalies Need for a double-blind test Possible changes in the decay rate Isochrons Atlantic sea floor dating Dating Meteorites Conclusion Gentry's radiohaloes in coalified wood Carbon 14 dating Tree ring chronologies Coral dating Varves Growth of coral reefs Evidence for catastrophe in the geologic column Rates of erosion Reliability of creationist sources Radiometric dating methods estimate the age of rocks using calculations based on the decay rates of radioactive elements such as uranium, strontium, and potassium.

Scientists look at half-life decay rates of radioactive isotopes to estimate when a particular atom might decay.

A useful application of half-lives is radioactive dating.

And we know that there's a generalized way to describe that.

And we go into more depth and kind of prove it in other Khan Academy videos.

It is one of the simplest examples of a differential equation.But we know that the amount as a function of time-- so if we say N is the amount of a radioactive sample we have at some time-- we know that's equal to the initial amount we have.We'll call that N sub 0, times e to the negative kt-- where this constant is particular to that thing's half-life.In order to do this for the example of potassium-40, we know that when time is 1.25 billion years, that the amount we have left is half of our initial amount. So let's say we start with N0, whatever that might be. We know, after that long, that half of the sample will be left. Whatever we started with, we're going to have half left after 1.25 billion years. And then to solve for k, we can take the natural log of both sides.It might be 1 gram, kilogram, 5 grams-- whatever it might be-- whatever we start with, we take e to the negative k times 1.25 billion years. So you get the natural log of 1/2-- we don't have that N0 there anymore-- is equal to the natural log of this thing.