by Dr Carl Wieland An attempt to explain this very important method of dating and the way in which, when fully understood, it supports a ‘short’ timescale.
In fact, the whole method is a giant ‘clock’ which seems to put a very young upper limit on the age of the atmosphere.
Familiar to us as the black substance in charred wood, as diamonds, and the graphite in “lead” pencils, carbon comes in several forms, or isotopes.
One rare form has atoms that are 14 times as heavy as hydrogen atoms: carbon-14, or C ratio gets smaller.
For the most accurate work, variations are compensated by means of calibration curves.
The method was developed by Willard Libby and his colleagues at the University of Chicago in 1949.
The article is in straightforward language and the non-technical reader could profitably work through it.
, we find that this ration is the same if we sample a leaf from a tree, or a part of your body.
The fact that the C doesn’t matter in a living thing—because it is constantly exchanging carbon with its surroundings, the ‘mixture’ will be the same as in the atmosphere and in all living things.So, we have a “clock” which starts ticking the moment something dies.Obviously, this works only for things which were once living.But I realized the other day that even as an adult with a fair amount of scientific knowledge, I could not articulate exactly how or why carbon dating works.So I did a bit of research to fill in the gaps in my understanding, and not surprisingly I found the details to be quite interesting.