Radiometric dating current events

14-Mar-2020 01:46 by 5 Comments

Radiometric dating current events

Part 1 (in the previous issue) explained how scientists observe unstable atoms changing into stable atoms in the present.Part 2 explains how scientists run into problems when they make assumptions about what happened .

These and numerous other claimed anomalies in radiocarbon dating are explained in detail in Mark Isaak's book [Isaak2007, pg. In short, while like any other method of scientific investigation, radiocarbon dating is subject to anomalies and misuse, when used correctly in accordance with well-established procedures and calibration schemes, the method is a very reliable means of dating relatively "recent" artifacts.

In any event, it must be emphasized once again that radiocarbon dating has no relevance one way or the other for the overall question of whether the earth is many millions of years old, since the scheme can only be used to reliably date specimens less than approximately 50,000 years old.

Additional background is available in a well-written Wikipedia article on the topic [Radiocarbon2011], and in Richard Wiens' article [Wiens2002].

An hourglass is a helpful analogy to explain how geologists calculate the ages of rocks.

When we look at sand in an hourglass, we can estimate how much time has passed based on the amount of sand that has fallen to the bottom.

The relative width of the red calibration curve indicates the range of uncertainty: In October 2012, a team led by Christopher Ramsey of Oxford University published a new study, based on analyses of varves (alternating light/dark bands in sediments) from Lake Suigetsu, which is located about 350 kilometers west of Tokyo, near the coast of the Sea of Japan.

These researchers collected core samples 70 meters deep, and then painstakingly counted the layers, year by year, to obtain a direct record stretching back 52,000 years.

In other words, those hoping that uncertainties in radiocarbon dating, say in the assumption of constancy of atmospheric carbon-14 levels, will mean that specimens are really much younger than the measured dates, are in for a big disappointment -- it is now clear that specimens are actually somewhat older than the raw, uncalibrated reckonings.

As mentioned above, young-earth creationist writers have cited various anomalies and potential difficulties with radiocarbon dating, and have used these examples to justify their conclusion that the entire scheme is flawed and unreliable.

Since it is chemically indistinguishable from the stable isotopes of carbon (carbon-12 and carbon-13), radiocarbon is taken by plants during photosynthesis and then ingested by animals regularly throughout their lifetimes.

When a plant or animal organism dies, however, the exchange of radiocarbon from the atmosphere and the biosphere stops, and the amount of radiocarbon gradually decreases, with a half-life of approximately 5730 years.

Creationists often criticize radiocarbon dating in the context of discussions of the age of the earth.

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