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Furthermore, by interpretation of these graphs they often claim to be able to quantify the loss or gain and thus overcome this difficulty to still ‘read’ the radioactive ‘clock’.However, once again this interpretation to overcome this problem of the invalidated closed-system assumption cannot be proved, but is merely assumed to be correct because it makes the radioactive ‘clock’ work.At time t = 0, the hourglass is turned upside-down so that all the sand starts in the top bowl.

However, in the case of these radioactive ‘clocks’ these three assumptions can be shown to be not only unprovable, but invalid, rendering these ‘clocks’ virtually useless.magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this.For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones available by searching Snelling Some types (technically known as ‘isotopes’) of ‘parent’ elements such as uranium, thorium, potassium and rubidium are said to be radioactive because the nuclei of the atoms are unstable, resulting in readjustments between the ‘particles’ (primarily neutrons and protons) in the nuclei with time.Thus, if a rock sample is analysed at or near the earth’s surface for its uranium and lead isotopes, it would be incorrect to assume that all the uranium and lead in the sample were there only because of the amounts placed in the rock at its origin and because of undisturbed radioactive decay from uranium into lead.

Some of the uranium might have been leached out of the rock sample, hence making the rock appear older than it really is according to this radioactive ‘clock’.

The final assumption is, of course, that the radioactive decay rates have remained constant.