Did the z-pinch effect, above, produce electrical effects that altered radioactive decay rates in earth's past?
Dating methods based on radioactivity have been used to indicate a vast age, in the millions or billions of years, for certain rocks. However, in some cases, other methods yield much younger ages.
For example, some zircons have been radiometrically dated to about 4 billion years old. The decay process for the zircons involves alpha particle emission from uranium and/or thorium inside the zircon. An alpha particle is simply a helium nucleus, which will quickly gather up 2 electrons and become a helium atom. (Electrons are quickly accumulated when you rub a balloon on some material - perhaps your hair - and then place the balloon on a wall or ceiling. The resulting static electrical force will hold the balloon in place.) So, the radioactive decay in the zircon results in helium production.