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.These first “geochronology studies” yielded the first “absolute ages” from geologic material, which seemed to indicate that parts of the Earth's crust were hundreds of millions of years old. There is, of course, one radiometric dating method that appears to overcome the vital "zero date problem".The isochron dating method theoretically overcomes the need to know the initial ratio of parent and daughter isotopes. For now, we will look at those methods that do fall under the above assumptions.was published, the earth was "scientifically" determined to be 100 million years old. In 1947, science firmly established that the earth was 3.4 billion years old.Finally in 1976, it was discovered that the earth is "really" 4.6 billion years old… The answer of 25 million years deduced by Kelvin was not received favorably by geologists.There is perhaps no beguilement more insidious and dangerous than an elaborate and elegant mathematical process built upon unfortified premises." - Chamberlain 1899b:224Following the discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel (1896), the possibility of using this phenomenon as a means for determining the age of uranium-bearing minerals was demonstrated by Rutherford (1906).
As one answer to his critics, Kelvin produced a completely independent estimate -- this time for the age of the Sun.
Without this knowledge, he argued that, "As for the future, we may say, with equal certainty, that inhabitants of the Earth cannot continue to enjoy the light and heat essential to their life, for many million years longer, unless sources now unknown to us are prepared in the great storehouse of creation."The same is true of the basis of Kelvin's estimate of the age of the Earth.
It was based on the idea that no significant source of novel heat energy was affecting the Earth.
Other factors and basic assumptions must also be considered.
Of course, Kelvin formed his estimates of the age of the Sun without the knowledge of fusion as the true energy source of the Sun.
Interweaving the relative time scale with the atomic time scale poses certain problems because only certain types of rocks, chiefly the igneous variety, can be dated directly by radiometric methods; but these rocks do not ordinarily contain fossils.