Graph of radiocarbon dating accuracy
But in general, this rate is felt by the vast majority of mainstream scientists to be a fundamental constant. al., published a paper suggesting that the decay rate of radioactive elements is related to the Earth's distance from the Sun.In other words, the decay rates show annual changes that closely reflect the Earth's distance from the Sun (see illustration).Later, after radioactivity had been proven to be a significant source of the Earth's internal heat, he did privately admit that he might have been in error.What is especially telling about this whole story is the conclusion of the absolute truth of the conclusion based on premises that are weak, or at least not adequately demonstrated.
Of course, this was a close as Kelvin ever came to publicly recanting his position.
Chamberlain (1899) pointed out that Kelvin's calculations were only as good as the assumptions on which they were based.
"The fascinating impressiveness of rigorous mathematical analyses, with its atmosphere of precision and elegance, should not blind us to the defects of the premises that condition the whole process.
In short, the assumption that decay rates are immune to outside influences isn't as solid as it once appeared to be.
However, if one does assume a constant decay rate, and if one starts with an originally pure sample of “parent element,” then the proportion of parent to daughter tells us the number of half-lives, which has been used to find the supposed age of igneous rocks. The conclusions of Renne and his team read as follows: Ar can be identified in volcanic sanidine, and while perhaps negligible in pre-Holocene rocks, it has important consequences for sample at the limit of the method’s applicability.
His result was in close agreement with his estimate of the age of the earth.