Issues with radiocarbon dating

By testing the amount of carbon stored in an object, and comparing to the original amount of carbon Unfortunately, the believed amount of carbon present at the time of expiration is exactly that: a belief, an assumption, an estimate.

It is very difficult for scientists to know how much carbon would have originally been present; one of the ways in which they have tried to overcome this difficulty was through using carbon equilibrium.

Equilibrium is the name given to the point when the rate of carbon production and carbon decay are equal.

By measuring the rate of production and of decay (both eminently quantifiable), scientists were able to estimate that carbon in the atmosphere would go from zero to equilibrium in 30,000 – 50,000 years.

Half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for an object to lose exactly half of the amount of carbon (or other element) stored in it.

Similarly, it will take another 5,730 years for the amount of carbon to drop to 25g, and so on and so forth.Most concerning, though, is when the carbon dating directly opposes or contradicts other estimates.At this point, the carbon dating data is simply disregarded.However, a little more knowledge about the exact ins and outs of carbon dating reveals that perhaps it is not quite as fool-proof a process as we may have been led to believe.At its most basic level, carbon dating is the method of determining the age of organic material by measuring the levels of carbon found in it.

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It has been summed up most succinctly in the words of American neuroscience Professor Bruce Brew: that samples of moss could be brought back to life after being frozen in ice. That carbon dating deemed the moss to have been frozen for over 1,500 years.

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