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You have exactly the right idea. The decay products are only useful in as much as we can compare a previous isotopic ratio to the current (measured) ratio. How this is done differs from dating method to dating method. As an example, C14 dating originally came about with the idea that atmospheric and therefore living plants have a near-constant ratio that ...


One needs to account for lead that was formed as lead, rather than by radioactive decay. Wikipedia has a discussion. Lead-204 is not formed by decay, so if you know the primordial distribution of the isotopes, you can compute the primordial amount of each of the others. The rest comes from decay.


This answer may be slightly removed from your question but may help you understand some of the background discussion. Classical physics has a good partnership between its formal mathematical language and it's informal interpretive language since we have our intuition of everyday objects. In quantum mechanics we lose the intuition aspect and hence have no ...


Decay is fairly well understood. You can model the components of the nucleus as being trapped in a well then find the rate at which the probability current leaks out. A realist QM interpretation would then say that the wave really does leak out. Of course the wave is in configuration space so it isn't a wave like an electromagnetic wave. A specific ...


Unless you are a proponent of there being loopholes in the various test of Bell's Inequality1 then local hidden variable are ruled out as the way any quantum mechanics works. 1 Which some non-crank people are, though as I understand it the wiggle room is getting pretty constrained.


Lithium and other light elements (e.g. beryllium) can be formed indirectly from supernovae via cosmic ray spallation, a process where protons and neutrons are ejected when a cosmic ray collides with another atom. The nucleons can then form new elements. Nakamura & Shigeyama (2004) were able to calculate yields for 6Li, 7Li, and isotopes of Beryllium and ...

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