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For an example of how geologists use radiometric dating, read on: A geologist can pick up a rock from a mountainside somewhere, and bring it back to the lab, and separate out the individual minerals that compose the rock.They can then look at a single mineral, and using an instrument called a mass spectrometer, they can measure the amount of parent and the amount of daughter in that mineral.The reason that I trust the accuracy of the age that we have determined for the earth (~4.56 billion years) is that we have been able to obtain a very similar result using many different isotopic systems.Most estimates of the age of the earth come from dating meteorites that have fallen to Earth (because we think that they formed in our solar nebula very close to the time that the earth formed).We call the original, unstable isotope (Uranium) the "parent", and the product of decay (Lead) the "daughter".From careful physics and chemistry experiments, we know that parents turn into daughters at a very consistent, predictable rate.Obviously, if the substance you are measuring is contaminated, then all you know is the age since contamination, or worse, you don't know anything, because the contamination might be in the opposite direction - suppose, for example, you're looking at radio carbon (carbon 14, which is produced in the atmosphere by cosmic rays, and which decays into nitrogen).

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A mass spectrometer is an instrument that separates atoms based on their mass.Answer 2: Yes, radiometric dating is a very accurate way to date the Earth.We know it is accurate because radiometric dating is based on the radioactive decay of unstable isotopes.Because geochronologists want to measure isotopes with different masses, a mass spectrometer works really well for dating things.I do think that radiometric dating is an accurate way to date the earth, although I am a geochronologist so I have my biases.

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