A Date with Potassium and Argon

The general equation for calculating the age of any volcanic-based rock using the Potassium-40 (P40) decay into stable Argon-40 method (Ar40) is,

 

 

 

Where:

t = time in years

ln = natural log

x = quantity of measured Ar40 in your sample

The Potassium ->Argon method is only deemed accurate for ages past 100,000 years and up to 4.3 billion years, which is near the assumed age of the Earth. I find it ironically convenient that the only results one can hope to calculate with any mathematical certainty are those beyond 100,000 years. That in itself is difficult to relate to as finite beings who can only empirically experience a mere 120 years at best, but we are only getting started.

Potassium-40 (P 40) is a metallic radioactive element that accounts for 0.0117% of all known naturally occurring Potassium on Earth in all of its forms, mainly salts. It is thought to be a product of ancient stars that went supernova, at which time they spewed all manner of elements including Potassium into dust clouds that, over hundreds of millions of years, would accrete into planets such as our Earth. In light of recent admissions, we are already starting off with a hypothetical scenario of Big Bang Origins and long ages which we cannot hope to adequately test nor verify in anyone’s lifetime.

Be that as it may, P41 accounts for 93.25% of all known Potassium, while P39 accounts for 6.74%. These are both stable isotopes of Potassium occurring naturally. But since we are only concerned with the decay of the radioactive P40 into stable Ar40, a noble gas, how reliable is any test that relies on only 0.0117% of the P40 radioactive element? Wait, it gets worse.

There are important assumptions that need to be made in order to calculate anything at all.

These are:

  • The potassium and argon must BOTH stay put in the mineral (eg, the rock) over geologic time.

This is the hardest condition to meet, partly because radioactive elements are always moving around at the atomic level (see quantum physics). They can’t always be detected when looking in only one spot, time after time. Consequently, amounts calculated based on mass spectrometry do not always account for all of the available material we could find, isolate and measure. And “geologic time” is a direct product of this dating method which results in millions and millions of years. This is faulty logic akin to citing an unproven claim that, by also using it as a standard, proves it exists. 

In addition, the typical mass amounts of Ar40 calculated after mass spectrometry are usually much less than 1mg. So we are relying on extremely small samples, such as 0.0005mg of a gas, to extract huge unverifiable numbers of years and are then applying this universally across strata found all over the world, many times without even testing subsequent rocks; only by taking a depth and correlating it to the strata charts. That’s like saying one grain of sand is exactly the same as all other grains of sand on all the beaches and deserts of the planet and if you’ve measured one, you know them all; quite a tall tale!

  • The rate of decay is a constant exponential.

This is not always the case, as shown by recent tests, and therefore should not be assumed to have held in the distant past either, since it is assumed by geologists and astronomers that both Earth and the Sun were much more volatile than now. With regard to solar activity specifically, continuous and sporadic bombardment of earth’s crust by solar neutrinos or other particles can influence the rate of decay of a radioactive element’s protons into neutrons to form the stable element(s). In the case of P->Ar, a proton of radioactive P40 turns into a neutron through quantum physics. The mass does not change and the radioactive element decays into two stable elements, Ca40 and Ar40. We will ignore Calcium, another metallic salt, since it is not used for dating purposes here, even though I could write another post solely on Calcium’s importance to the human body, and the physiologic processes that require it.

In total, during one half-life cycle of P40, 11% of it turns into stable Argon gas and 89% into stable Calcium. Beginning in the 1950s, this half-life has been calculated and “refined” to be 1.25 billion years currently. We question how accurate this figure is, based on the newly discovered effects of the aforementioned solar activity during past maximums/minimums and the Sun cycle itself, which have never been taken into account. Given that astronomers are convinced the Sun’s activity in the distant past was much different than today, what does this mean for solar activity’s potential effects on radioactivity over millions of years? In a word: much.

  • There is no subsequent atmospheric addition of Ar40 into the sample.

This cannot always be verified to be the case due to groundwater infiltration, tectonic plate motion generating heat and breakage or recycling of various strata, and solar neutrino or other particle activity, all of which can alter the Ar40 content in a given sample. If this is suspected, it must be accounted for and requires additional steps to isolate.

These additional steps can alter the accuracy of the overall test because they reduce the total available Argon in the sample. Any alteration or fracturing of the rock means that the Potassium or the Argon, or both, have been disturbed and the rock is useless for dating. Of note, geologists are told that the site must be “geologically meaningful,” meaning it must clearly relate to fossil-bearing rocks that need a good date to “join the story,” which of course refers to Evolution over deep time; this being the only accepted story.

Let’s assume that our careful geologist friends obtain a rock sample out in the field, and that the strata they’re digging in has not been disturbed since it was laid down as lava that eventually cooled “millions and millions of years ago.” That means it hasn’t been jostled or disturbed by earthquakes, or infiltrated by any groundwater for millions of years, or dug up by other cultures and peoples before the modern age, etc. Let’s then also assume that our physicist friends back in the lab are equally, if not more so, careful in their preparation of the rock sample in order to conduct this test, including the removal of any contamination.

We must also assume that they have no interest in faulty data that would skew age results because they are honest scientists and are willing to follow the evidence wherever it may lead. Of course, if they are only 99.9% successful in preventing errors and the numbers they get are in the millions and billions, we have no way of verifying that empirically anyway. Are we having fun yet?

The assumption that Ar40 completely escapes from volcanic lava during its liquid stage and that none will remain by the time the lava cools into rock is questionable in light of recent discoveries. In addition to solar, atmospheric, temperature, and friction effects, scientists are only now beginning to account for groundwater recycling of elements including Argon, and that groundwater can and does infiltrate rock, including deep in the earth’s crustal layers.

Another assumption is that the incredibly tiny amount of 0.0117% of P40 found in the earth’s crust and lava rocks that we are trying to test has decayed into stable Argon-40 INSIDE the rock only, because it’s unable to escape as when the lava was liquid. Ar40 is a noble gas, it doesn’t react with anything and doesn’t bond with anything, it just bubbles completely out of a solution such as liquid lava. So when the lava cools and becomes hard rock, there should be no naturally occurring Ar40 left in it. Therefore if your rock sample contains it, then you have to conclude it’s only by decay of the radioactive P40, of which only 0.0117% exists in all of the earth’s crust. Note that we cannot conclusively ever rule out groundwater contamination, crustal upheaval due to earthquakes, solar neutrino bombardment, etc.

Going back to our ratios of 11% and 89% after decay, 11% represents Ar40 and we can use the ratio of P40 today (that tiny 0.0117%) to what must have originally existed when the Earth first formed (verified how??) to calculate an age for that rock. The problem is that the measured Ar40 in the sample is usually on the order of tiny fractions of less than 1mg.

For example, a reasonable amount of Ar40 one might expect to find is 0.005mg. This number is further reduced when dividing it by 11%, which represents the total Ar40 left after a half-life decay cycle, all things being constant (pun intended!). Plugging in the known quantity and other numbers into the above equation, a sample containing 0.005mg of Ar40 would result in a calculated age of ~80.2 million years, or roughly the Cretaceous era.

Those of you who have any experience in a science lab will affirm that 0.005mg of any substance, particularly a gas, is an incredibly small amount which is difficult to isolate, purify and accurately wield in a variety of precision instruments such as mass spectrometers. If we are lucky enough to find a bit more of our target substance (and rule out contamination with Argon gas from any other source) to increase the mass tenfold, to about 0.05mg, the sample would date to ~675.7 million years ago, which would place it (and any fossil found nearby, coincidentally) in the pre-Cambrian! A difference of 0.045mg can result in 595.5 million years! And remember that we are measuring a gas, not a solid substance. How easy is it to lose or misplace 0.045mg of gas? Imperceptibly so.

It should go without saying that any errors in handling, decontaminating, or measuring the sample could give incredibly different numbers that we may never catch. Neither would we be able to verify these ages in the real world since we’re mere mortals. Not to worry though, peer review always catches every mistake!

Suffice to say that these unbelievably small mass numbers, combined with irrational numbers such as “e,” which is Euler’s constant (a separate discussion) to calculate the constants required for determining age, are not verifiable in a real-world real-time empirical setting. It is purely an abstract mathematical result.

Why is any of this important?

Because if the results of these calculations yield millions and millions of years, then supposedly any fossil found near or in that layer of dated volcanic rock must be the same age. Right? What’s more, we get to come up with fancy terms like “deep time.” 

But is this sound, rational reasoning and should we apply one result in the lab to the entire geologic column all over the world and at all times? And if it turns out that more and more fossils are found to contain soft tissues, these can and should be carbon-dated. Then what? If those soft tissues include pliable muscle fibers, or red blood cells, or proteins that we can extract dinosaur DNA from, knowing that these structures degrade biochemically on the order of hundreds or thousands of years in ideal conditions, what conclusions should we reach? No, I’m not talking about building a Jurassic Park. Let’s not get distracted.

For example if carbon dating gives us an age of, say ~25,000 years, which is significantly within the accepted range of the test, then what do we do with the P->Ar or other methods that mathematically calculate the ages of the rock layer above or below that fossil, which say the layers are hundreds of millions of years old? What constraints can we subject the dating to? Do we throw out the carbon date? If so, based on what reasoning? Because it’s not as good as the P->Ar method? Or do we throw out the P->Ar date, knowing that it too is based on a myriad of assumptions and constants that we now know are NOT constant, and that we rely on error-prone human scientists with their own agendas, aspirations, and biases to collect, clean, organize, isolate, purify and accurately measure each and every sample?

Wouldn’t it be safer to restrict the results from types of dating methods to what we can accurately verify empirically and not just mathematically? What would happen to “the story?” At what point are we so far off the reservation with our significant figures that, if we stop to think for a moment how much time we are actually talking about, it boggles the mind?

Yet, despite these red flags evolutionists are willing to press on. But when we dig up a bone that contains soft tissue, including pliable stretchy muscle fibers and red blood cells in vessels that look like those from a recently dissected sample, does it not strain credulity to peer through the microscope looking at what appear to be fresh tissues and yet say to yourself, “Wow, these are 500 million years old? No way!”

And yet, that is the ONLY acceptable box within which you are allowed to conduct scientific inquiry as a modern scientist. Anything else will get you fired, or censored, or discredited, or ostracized, or all of these in succession. Just ask Mark Armitage. After being dragged through the mud for daring to question the only position allowed, he eventually came out on top.

My advice and free fact for today: we should take these dating methods and their results with a few grains of salt, and preferably larger than 0.05mg. Although, according to the American Heart Association, no more than 1,500mg daily.

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