How accurate is carbon dating

12-Oct-2019 07:24 by 3 Comments

How accurate is carbon dating - dating in hyderabad

Y., reported today in the British journal Nature that some estimates of age based on carbon analyses were wrong by as much as 3,500 years.They arrived at this conclusion by comparing age estimates obtained using two different methods - analysis of radioactive carbon in a sample and determination of the ratio of uranium to thorium in the sample.

But, as is clear even from the very brief discussion in the previous paragraph, radiocarbon dating can say nothing one way or the other about whether the earth is many millions of years old, since such dates are far beyond this method's range of resolution.

Radiocarbon dating can’t tell the difference between wood that was cut and immediately used for the spear, and wood that was cut years before being re-used for that purpose.

Nor can it tell if a much older spearhead was attached to a brand-new shaft.

Because of this relatively short half-life, radiocarbon is useful for dating items of a relatively recent vintage, as far back as roughly 50,000 years before the present epoch.

Radiocarbon dating cannot be used for older specimens, because so little carbon-14 remains in samples that it cannot be reliably measured.

For example, a steel spearhead cannot be carbon dated, so archaeologists might perform testing on the wooden shaft it was attached to.

This provides good information, but it only indicates how long ago that piece of wood was cut from a living tree.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.New research shows, however, that some estimates based on carbon may have erred by thousands of years.It is too soon to know whether the discovery will seriously upset the estimated dates of events like the arrival of human beings in the Western Hemisphere, scientists said.Question: "Is carbon dating a reliable method for determining the age of things?