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They do not provide “exact” dates for the materials.

suggested that lead is one of the disintegration products of uranium, in which case the older a uranium-bearing mineral the greater should be its proportional part of lead.

Analyzing specimens whose relative geologic ages were known, Boltwood found that the ratio of lead to uranium did indeed increase with age.

After estimating the rate of this radioactive change, he calculated that the absolute ages of his specimens ranged from 410 million to 2.2 billion years.

Though his figures were too high by about 20 percent, their order of magnitude was enough to dispose of the short scale of geologic time proposed by Lord Kelvin. This device separates the different isotopes of the same element and can measure the variations in these isotopic abundances to within one part in 10,000.

Each chemical element, such as carbon and oxygen, consists of atoms unique to it.