Researcher uses carbon dating

MYTH #2 Radiocarbon dating has established the date of some organic materials (e.g., some peat deposits) to be well in excess of 50,000 years, thus rendering a recent creation (6 to 10 thousand years ago) impossible.

Some organic materials do give radiocarbon ages in excess of 50,000 "radiocarbon years." However, it is important to distinguish between "radiocarbon years" and calendar years.

First, any instrument which is built to measure radiocarbon has a limit beyond which it cannot separate the signal due to radiocarbon in the sample from the signal due to background processes within the measuring apparatus.

Even a hypothetical sample containing absolutely no radiocarbon will register counts in a radiocarbon counter because of background signals within the counter.

There are two characteristics of the instrumental measurement of radiocarbon which, if the lay observer is unaware, could easily lead to such an idea.For this reason special precautions need to be exercised when sampling materials which contain only small amounts of radiocarbon.Reports of young radiocarbon ages for coal probably all stem from a misunderstanding of one or both of these two factors.Some may have mistaken this to mean that the sample had been dated to 20,000 radiocarbon years.The second characteristic of the measurement of radiocarbon is that it is easy to contaminate a sample which contains very little radiocarbon with enough radiocarbon from the research environment to give it an apparent radiocarbon age which is much less than its actual radiocarbon age.Since no reliable historically dated artifacts exist which are older than 5,000 years, it has not been possible to determine the relationship of radiocarbon years to calendar years for objects which yield dates of tens of thousands of radiocarbon years.

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