Carbon dating method reliable
Even though more than one method of verification is used in most cases, the lack of an accurate method to date non-organic materials lends a certain degree of uncertainty to the accepted history of our planet.
It is also important not to forget that throughout the history of humankind any discovery that shakes the status quo is always under attack until it becomes established, and we are in an era where many of the things that we once considered certain will become errors of our past.
C14 tells you when life ended, so for example: when the goat, sheep or cow died, to produce leather; when the papyrus died to make a page for writing. This means that C14 can tell you, within set limits, when the material for a manuscript became available to be made; it (alone) cannot tell you when a person wrote or drew upon it.
What it may tell you is when it could not have been made: before the life of the animal, or plant, ended.
This method includes carbon dating and thermoluminescence.
The absolute dating method first appeared in 1907 with Lord Rutherford and Professor Boltwood at Yale University, but wasn’t accepted until the 1950s.
Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food.
Once the organism dies, however, it ceases to absorb carbon-14, so that the amount of the radiocarbon in its tissues steadily decreases.
Today, many different radioactive elements have been used, but the most famous absolute dating method is radiocarbon dating, which uses the isotope C.
This isotope, which can be found in organic materials and can be used only to date organic materials, has been incorrectly used by many to make dating assumptions for non-organic material such as stone buildings.
The half-life of C is approximately 5730 years, which is too short for this method to be used to date material millions of years old.
Carbon-14 is continually formed in nature by the interaction of neutrons with nitrogen-14 in the Earth’s atmosphere; the neutrons required for this reaction are produced by cosmic rays interacting with the atmosphere.
Radiocarbon present in molecules of atmospheric carbon dioxide enters the biological carbon cycle: it is absorbed from the air by green plants and then passed on to animals through the food chain.
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For dates that are both important and contentious, it is usual to employ a number of laboratories for samples from the same source in an effort to reduce bias.