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By way of explanation it can be noted that since the cause of the process lies deep within the atomic nucleus, external forces such as extreme heat and pressure have no effect.

The same is true regarding gravitational, magnetic, and electric fields, as well as the chemical state in which the atom resides.

Proportion 1 becomes: Stated in words, this equation says that the rate at which a certain radioisotope disintegrates depends not only on how many atoms of that isotope are present but also on an intrinsic property of that isotope represented by λ, the so-called decay constant.

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In this analogy, the apples would represent radioactive, or parent, atoms, while the oranges would represent the atoms formed, the so-called daughters.

Pursuing this analogy further, one would expect that a new basket of apples would have no oranges but that an older one would have many.

In other words, it is the obligation of geochronologists to try to prove themselves wrong by including a series of cross-checks in their measurements before they publish a result.

Such checks include dating a series of ancient units with closely spaced but known relative ages and replicate analysis of different parts of the same rock body with samples collected at widely spaced localities.

To compensate for the loss of mass (and energy), the radioactive atom undergoes internal transformation and in most cases simply becomes an atom of a different chemical element.

In terms of the numbers of atoms present, it is as if apples changed spontaneously into oranges at a fixed and known rate.

Given below is the simple mathematical relationship that allows the time elapsed to be calculated from the measured parent/daughter ratio.

The age calculated is only as good as the existing knowledge of the decay rate and is valid only if this rate is constant over the time that elapsed.

In short, the process of radioactive decay is immutable under all known conditions.

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