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As early as of 1673, John Ray, an English naturalist, reckoned with alternative that "im the primitive times and soon after the Creation the earth suffered far more concussions and mutations in its superficial part than afterward". Atoms consist of a heavy central core called the nucleus surrounded by clouds of lightweight particles (electrons), called electron shells.
The energy locked in the nucleus is enormous, but cannot be released easily.
With uranium-lead dating, for example, the process assumes the original proportion of uranium in the sample.
One assumption that can be made is that all the lead in the sample was once uranium, but if there was lead there to start with, this assumption is not valid, and any date based on that assumption will be incorrect (too old).
That is, electrons can move closer to or farther away from the nucleus depending on the chemical bonds.
This affects the coulomb barrier involved in Alpha decay, and therefore changes the height and width of the barrier through which the alpha particle must tunnel.
For these reasons, if a rock strata contains zircon, running a uranium-lead test on a zircon sample will produce a radiometric dating result that is less dependent on the initial quantity problem.
The major reason that decay rates can change is that the electric field, from the atom's electron cloud, can change due to chemical changes.
In the case of carbon dating, it is not the initial quantity that is important, but the initial ratio of C, but the same principle otherwise applies.
Recognizing this problem, scientists try to focus on rocks that do not contain the decay product originally.
Because radiometric dating fails to satisfy standards of testability and falsifiability, claims based on radiometric dating may fail to qualify under the Daubert standard for court-admissible scientific evidence.
It is more accurate for shorter time periods (e.g., hundreds of years) during which control variables are less likely to change.
The second way that a nucleus could be disrupted is by particles striking it.