Inaccuracies of carbon dating

The method was developed in the late 1940s at the University of Chicago by Willard Libby, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960.It is based on the fact that radiocarbon ( in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.Since the universe is estimated to be millions of years old, it was assumed that this equilibrium had already been reached.However, in the 1960s, the growth rate was found to be significantly higher than the decay rate; almost a third in fact.

Without understanding the mechanics of it, we put our blind faith in the words of scientists, who assure us that carbon dating is a reliable method of determining the ages of almost everything around us.The half-life of carbon is 5,730 years, which means that it will take this amount of time for it to reduce from 100g of carbon to 50g – exactly half its original amount.Similarly, it will take another 5,730 years for the amount of carbon to drop to 25g, and so on and so forth.Additional complications come from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, and from the above-ground nuclear tests done in the 1950s and 1960s.Because the time it takes to convert biological materials to fossil fuels is substantially longer than the time it takes for its in the atmosphere, which attained a maximum in about 1965 of almost twice what it had been before the testing began.

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