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My purpose here is not to review and discuss all of the dating methods in use.
One of the primary functions of the dating specialist (sometimes called a geochronologist) is to select the applicable method for the particular problem to be solved, and to design the experiment in such a way that there will be checks on the reliability of the results.
Sometimes these decay schemes are used individually to determine an age (e.g., Rb-Sr) and sometimes in combinations (e.g., U-Th-Pb).
Each of the various decay schemes and dating methods has unique characteristics that make it applicable to particular geologic situations.
Bishop James Ussher, a 17th-century Irish cleric, for example, calculated that creation occurred in 4004 B. There were many other such estimates, but they invariably resulted in an Earth only a few thousand years old.
By the late 18th century, some naturalists had begun to look closely at the ancient rocks of the Earth.