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Because argon is an inert gas, it is not possible that it might have been in the mineral when it was first formed from molten magma.Any argon present in a mineral containing potassium-40 must have been formed as the result of radioactive decay.F, the fraction of K40 remaining, is equal to the amount of potassium-40 in the sample, divided by the sum of potassium-40 in the sample plus the calculated amount of potassium required to produce the amount of argon found. In spite of the fact that it is a gas, the argon is trapped in the mineral and can't escape.(Creationists claim that argon escape renders age determinations invalid.
Radioactive elements "decay" (that is, change into other elements) by "half lives." If a half life is equal to one year, then one half of the radioactive element will have decayed in the first year after the mineral was formed; one half of the remainder will decay in the next year (leaving one-fourth remaining), and so forth.
Half-life is defined as the amount of time it takes a given quantity to decrease to half of its initial value.
The term is most commonly used in relation to atoms undergoing radioactive decay, but can be used to describe other types of decay, whether exponential or not.
This task addresses a very important issue about precision in reporting and understanding statements in a realistic scientific context.
This has implications for the other tasks on Carbon 14 dating which will be addressed in ''Accuracy of Carbon 14 Dating II.'' The statistical nature of radioactive decay means that reporting the half-life as 30 \pm 40$ is more informative than providing a number such as 30$ or 00$.
The process of carbon-14 dating was developed by William Libby, and is based on the fact that carbon-14 is constantly being made in the atmosphere.