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Fortunately for geochronology the study of radioactivity has been the subject of extensive theoretical and laboratory investigation by physicists for almost a century.

The results show that there is no known process that can alter the rate of radioactive decay.

For a single element, these atoms are called isotopes.

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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.

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.

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.

Carnarvon Gorge is a spectacular natural wonder in the semi-arid heart of Central Queensland, 600 kilometres northwest of Brisbane.

At its mouth the Gorge sits 600 metres below a basalt plateau.

Radioactive decay can be observed in the laboratory by either of two means: (1) a radiation counter (parent atoms.

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