Absolute Ages Aren't Exactly

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Science  04 Dec 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5395, pp. 1840-1841
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5395.1840

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The time scales of important events and processes in geology and archaeology are ascertained through measurements of radioisotopes. The accuracy of the dating depends critically on how well known the radioactive decay constants are. In their Perspective, Renne, Karner, and Ludwig discuss the role that discrepancies in decay constants play in the accuracy of radioisotope dating. As dating measurements become increasingly precise, geochronologists will have to confront these kinds of systematic errors.