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These techniques, unlike carbon dating, mostly use the relative concentrations of parent and daughter products in radioactive decay chains.For example, potassium-40 decays to argon-40; uranium-238 decays to lead-206 via other elements like radium; uranium-235 decays to lead-207; rubidium-87 decays to strontium-87; etc.Familiar to us as the black substance in charred wood, as diamonds, and the graphite in “lead” pencils, carbon comes in several forms, or isotopes.One rare form has atoms that are 14 times as heavy as hydrogen atoms: carbon-14, or C ratio gets smaller.These techniques are applied to igneous rocks, and are normally seen as giving the time since solidification.The isotope concentrations can be measured very accurately, but isotope concentrations are not dates.So, we have a “clock” which starts ticking the moment something dies.
The amount of cosmic rays reaching the Earth varies with the sun's activity, and with the Earth's passage through magnetic clouds as the solar system travels around the Milky Way galaxy.
Overall, the energy of the Earth's magnetic field has been decreasing, so more C is being produced now than in the past.
This will make old things look older than they really are.
The strength of the Earth's magnetic field affects the amount of cosmic rays entering the atmosphere.
A stronger magnetic field deflects more cosmic rays away from the Earth.