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The slope of the line determines the date, and the closeness of fit is a measure of the statistical reliability of the resulting date.Technical details on how these dates are calculated are given in Radiometric dating. As with any experimental procedure in any field of science, these measurements are subject to certain "glitches" and "anomalies," as noted in the literature.Creationist Henry Morris, for example, criticizes this type of "uniformitarian" assumption [Morris2000, pg. But numerous experiments have been conducted to detect any change in radioactivity as a result of chemical activity, exceedingly high heat, pressure, or magnetic field. Scientists have also performed very exacting experiments to detect any change in the constants or laws of physics over time, but various lines of evidence indicate that these laws have been in force, essentially the same as we observe them today, over the multi-billion-year age of the universe.None of these experiments has detected any significant deviation for any isotope used in geologic dating [Dalrymple1991, pg. Note, for instance, that light coming to Earth from distant stars (which in some cases emanated billions of years ago) reflects the same patterns of atomic spectra, based in the laws of quantum mechanics, that we see today.Over a thousand papers on radiometric dating were published in scientifically recognized journals in the last year, and hundreds of thousands of dates have been published in the last 50 years.Essentially all of these strongly favor an old Earth.Several hundred laboratories around the world are active in radiometric dating.Their results consistently agree with an old Earth.
One question that sometimes arises here is how can scientists assume that rates of radioactivity have been constant over the great time spans involved.Radioactive decay rates have been measured for over sixty years now for many of the decay clocks without any observed changes.And it has been close to a hundred years since the uranium-238 decay rate was first determined.Here is one example of an isochron, based on measurements of basaltic meteorites (in this case the resulting date is 4.4 billion years) [Basaltic1981, pg. Skeptics of old-earth geology make great hay of these examples.For example, creationist writer Henry Morris [Morris2000, pg.
Another method is to make age measurements on several samples from the same rock unit.