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So whether you call it an exact science or not is a matter of linguistics.Although the exact age can't be known, the probabilities be exactly calculated. Austin's sample was known to have solidified in 1986, its argon content was clearly well below the threshhold where an amount of argon sufficiently useful for dating could have been present.by Brian Dunning Filed under General Science, Natural History, Religion Skeptoid Podcast #146 March 24, 2009 Podcast transcript Today we're going to point our skeptical eye at one of the key players in the debate between geologists and Young Earthers over the age of the Earth. Steven Austin took a sample of dacite from the new lava dome inside Mount St. The dacite sample was known to have been formed from a 1986 magma flow, and so its actual age was an established fact. Austin submitted the sample for radiometric dating to an independent laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts.The results came back dating the rock to 350,000 years old, with certain compounds within it as old as 2.8 million years. Austin's conclusion is that radiometric dating is uselessly unreliable. Austin chose a dating technique that is inappropriate for the sample tested, and charged that he deliberately used the wrong experiment in order to promote the idea that science fails to show that the Earth is older than the Bible claims.So when my result says the sample was 2.4 billion years old, this is only correct if the sample was at least 10,000 years old to begin with, and it's only correct plus or minus a calculated margin of error, in this example about 600,000 years.
Potassium-argon dating is done by destructively crushing and heating the sample and spectrally analyzing the resulting gases.
And there's pretty good reason for this: Geology dating is pretty complicated, and if you look at Dr.
Austin's paper or at any scholarly criticism of it, your eyes will quickly glaze over from the extraordinary detail and intricacy.
Below about 10,000 years, potassium-argon results are significant; there's not yet enough argon created.
The 11% of the time that potassium decays into argon and not calcium is also a probability, so this contributes to the result having a known margin of error.