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F, the fraction of K40 remaining, is equal to the amount of potassium-40 in the sample, divided by the sum of potassium-40 in the sample plus the calculated amount of potassium required to produce the amount of argon found. In spite of the fact that it is a gas, the argon is trapped in the mineral and can't escape.
(Creationists claim that argon escape renders age determinations invalid.
If we knew the fraction of a radioactive element still remaining in a mineral, it would be a simple matter to calculate its age by the formula To determine the fraction still remaining, we must know both the amount now present and also the amount present when the mineral was formed.The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom is called its atomic number.The sum of protons plus neutrons is the mass number.Because argon is an inert gas, it is not possible that it might have been in the mineral when it was first formed from molten magma.Any argon present in a mineral containing potassium-40 must have been formed as the result of radioactive decay.