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The number of parent atoms originally present is simply the number present now plus the number of daughter atoms formed by the decay, both of which are quantities that can be measured.

Samples for dating are selected carefully to avoid those that are altered, contaminated, or disturbed by later heating or chemical events.

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The trees resemble today's Christmas trees, but instead of needles they had leaves (see photo) The trees grew thickly (a thousand or more per acre) and tall (up to 80 feet).How accurate is the system by which the trees were dated? Geologists consider this figure accurate, along with the "known" age of the Earth.And it's all backed by absolute radiometric dating techniques.Measuring the uranium-to-lead ratios in the oldest rocks on Earth gave scientists an estimated age of the planet of 4.6 billion years.Segment from A Science Odyssey: "Origins."Geologists have calculated the age of Earth at 4.6 billion years.

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