Young Earthers point to an infamous dating error as evidence that the Earth is only as old as the Bible says.by Brian Dunning Filed under General Science, Natural History, Religion Skeptoid Podcast #146 March 24, 2009 Podcast transcript | Download | Subscribe Listen: 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.Dinosaur bones, on the other hand, are millions of years old -- some fossils are billions of years old.To determine the ages of these specimens, scientists need an isotope with a very long half-life.
This is what archaeologists use to determine the age of human-made artifacts. The half-life of carbon-14 is only 5,730 years, so carbon-14 dating is only effective on samples that are less than 50,000 years old.
But this sediment doesn't typically include the necessary isotopes in measurable amounts.
Fossils can't form in the igneous rock that usually does contain the isotopes.
Some of the isotopes used for this purpose are uranium-238, uranium-235 and potassium-40, each of which has a half-life of more than a million years.
Unfortunately, these elements don't exist in dinosaur fossils themselves.