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In this report, for example, we are told that using one radioactive dating technique, a lunar rock sample is 4,283 million years old, plus or minus 23 million years old.

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As someone who has studied radioactivity in detail, I have always been a bit amused by the assertion that radioactive dating is a precise way to determine the age of an object.

This false notion is often promoted when radioactive dates are listed with utterly unrealistic error bars.

That’s just over half a percent error in something that is supposedly multiple billions of years old.

Of course, that error estimate is complete nonsense.

Their age was measured to be 6.0 /- 0.3 billion years old. Those who are committed to an ancient age for the earth currently believe that it is 4.6 billion years old.

Obviously, then, the error in that measurement is 1.4 billion years, not 0.3 billion years!

Sr-86 diffuses more quickly than Sr-87, and that has never been taken into account when isochrons are analyzed. Perhaps, but it’s rather tricky, because the rate of diffusion depends on the specific chemical and physical environment of each individual rock.

If the effects of diffusion can be taken into account, it will require an elaborate model that will most certainly require elaborate assumptions. Hayes suggests a couple of other approaches that might work, but its not clear how well. If you believe the earth is very old, then most likely, all of the radioactive dates based on isochrons are probably overestimates. I have no idea, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. Hayes’s model indicates it could add as much as 29 billion years to ages determined with rubidium and strontium, although his model is rather simplistic.

If some process brought Sr-87 into the rock, it probably brought different amounts of the atom into different parts of the rock, so the ratio of Sr-87 to Sr-86 won’t stay consistent from one part of the rock to another. He says that there is one process that has been overlooked in all these isochron analyses: diffusion.

If a consistent isochron is generated, however, we can be “certain” that no process interfered with the relative amounts of Rb-87 and Sr-87, so the radioactive date is a good one. Atoms and molecules naturally move around, and they do so in such as way as to even out their concentrations.

As I have stated previously, we just don’t know a lot about radioactive decay.

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