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You cannot predict exactly when any one particular grain will get to the bottom, but you can predict from one time to the next how long the whole pile of sand takes to fall.
Once all of the sand has fallen out of the top, the hourglass will no longer keep time unless it is turned over again.
The next few pages cover a broad overview of radiometric dating techniques, show a few examples, and discuss the degree to which the various dating systems agree with each other.
The goal is to promote greater understanding on this issue, particularly for the Christian community.
This paper is available on the web via the American Scientific Affiliation and related sites to promote greater understanding and wisdom on this issue, particularly within the Christian community.
Rocks are made up of many individual crystals, and each crystal is usually made up of at least several different chemical elements such as iron, magnesium, silicon, etc.
Many people have been led to be skeptical of dating without knowing much about it. In spite of this, differences still occur within the church.
For example, most people don't realize that carbon dating is only rarely used on rocks. A disagreement over the age of the Earth is relatively minor in the whole scope of Christianity; it is more important to agree on the Rock of Ages than on the age of rocks.
Most processes that we are familiar with are like sand in an hourglass.
In exponential decay the amount of material decreases by half during each half-life.
Radiometric dating techniques indicate that the Earth is thousands of times older than that--approximately four and a half billion years old.