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One of the biggest factors in throwing off carbon dates is the fact that nuclear testing, which began around 1950, “blasted out radiation [into the atmosphere] that scientists see clearly as a spike in the radiocarbon record” (ibid.).
Most problematic in absorbing this spike in radiation has been charcoal, which scientists use frequently in their dating of ancient finds.
When the organism dies the C-14 is no longer replaced and that which remains decays at a constant rate.
The time it takes for one half of a radioactive isotope to decay is known as its ‘half-life.
Both phenomena are known to influence radiocarbon amounts by altering the level of cosmic radiation entering the atmosphere (ibid.).
The uncertainties surrounding science’s most popular dating method underscores how cautious scientists must be before setting in stone any date for an artifact or fossil. Gillespie, “Although 26,000 [years ago, according to modern dating assumptions] is pretty well nailed down now, there’s a sort of best guess for what comes after that” (ibid.).
Carbon dating determines the age of archaeological objects, or how long ago a creature died, by measuring the amount of Carbon -14 remaining inside.
Fossil corals have the unique advantage that they ...Referring to the fact that many Australian fossils were re-dated under the ABOX technique, Gillespie commented, “Something like a hundred dates were wrong and we ended up chucking them all out. This fact was suspected by no less than Willard Libby, the Nobel Prize-winning inventor of carbon dating, as Even in the early days, Libby suspected that the carbon-12 to carbon-14 ratio had not remained constant through time.Work on solar cycles and the Earth’s magnetic field proved him right., “The older an artifact is, the less certain scientists can be about its age” (Barry 2007: 344).Chris Turney of the University of Exeter in England similarly noted: “With radiocarbon, it’s not possible to obtain absolute dates—there’s always a bit of an unknown” (ibid).