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He showed that there is still some uncertainty in what the values for these measures of the Rb decay rate differ when Rb-Sr ages are calibrated against the U-Pb ages of either the same terrestrial minerals and rocks or the same meteorites and lunar rocks.Ironically it is the slow decay rates of isotopes such as Sm used for deep time dating that makes precise measurements of their decay rates so difficult.
Ideally, the uncertainty of the decay constants should be negligible compared to, or at least be commensurate with, the analytical uncertainties of the mass spectrometer measurements entering the radioisotope age calculations (Begemann et al. Clearly, based on the ongoing discussion in the conventional literature this is still not the case at present.
U decay in those rocks added daughter Pb isotopes to the common or initial Pb isotopes in them, inherited from the rock’s sources.
So the Pb isotope ratios measured in these rocks today must be interpreted before their U-Pb ages can be calculated.
The stunning improvements in the performance of mass spectrometers during the past four or so decades, starting with the landmark paper by Wasserburg et al.
(1969), have not been accompanied by any comparable improvement in the accuracy of the decay constants (Begemann et al.
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However, even uncertainties of only 1% in the half-lives lead to very significant discrepancies in the derived radioisotope ages.