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How reliable is carbon 14 dating

Libby and a few of his students at the University of Chicago: in 1960, he won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention.

It was the first absolute scientific method ever invented: that is to say, the technique was the first to allow a researcher to determine how long ago an organic object died, whether it is in context or not.

But researchers have known at least since 1969 that the carbon-14 level has not been constant, so that the radiocarbon clock needs to be "calibrated." As a result, various schemes are used to correct and calibrate radiocarbon dates, including: In each case, radiocarbon dates, determined by well-established procedures and calculations, are compared directly with dates determined by the above methods, thus permitting the radiocarbon dates to be accurately calibrated with distinct and independent dating techniques.

For instance, creationist Walt Brown has pointed out inconsistencies in some radiocarbon dates of mammoths -- one part was dated to 40,000 years, another to 26,000 years (and wood surrounding it to 10,000 years), and yet another to between 15,000 and 21,000 years before the present epoch [Brown2001].

However, in the scientific results mentioned by Brown, the dates come from different mammoth specimens.

Comparing these counts with a series of 651 radiocarbon-dated samples spanning this record, they obtained a calibration curve that is very close to the 2009 calibration shown above [Callaway2012]. It should be emphasized that the actual calibrated dates are about 10%-20% older than the raw uncorrected radiocarbon dates that were once used.

Compare, for example, the uncorrected line (blue dotted line) with the calibration curve (red curve).

528 comments

  1. Carbon dating is used to work out the age of organic material — in effect, any living thing. The technique hinges on carbon-14.

  2. Anything that was once alive or that was produced by a living thing can be dated by using the radiocarbon method of dating. This method, which received widespread.

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