Carbon 14 dating explanation

Imagine a tank with water flowing in at a certain rate, and flowing out again at the same rate (see diagram below). If you saw it for the first time, you wouldn’t be able to work out how old it was—how long it had been since it was ‘switched on’. Imagine the same tank, this time it is not yet full and the top tap is flowing more quickly than the bottom one is leaking out—this gives you a way of measuring how long ago the whole system was ‘switched on’ and it also tells you that that can’t have been too long ago (see diagram above).

Libby knew that if these figures were correct, it would mean that the atmosphere was young, so he dismissed the results as being due to experimental error!

Carbon has different isotopes, which are usually not radioactive.

Plants take up atmospheric carbon dioxide by photosynthesis, and are eaten by animals, so every living thing is constantly exchanging carbon-14 with its environment as long as it lives. In 1958 Hessel de Vries showed that the concentration of carbon-14 in the atmosphere varies with time and locality.

How do we know what the ratio was before then, though, say thousands of years ago?

It is assumed that the ratio has been constant for a very long time before the industrial revolution. (For on it hangs the whole validity of the system.) Why did W. Libby, the brilliant discoverer of this system, assume this?

(We are not implying dishonesty here, merely showing how powerfully the evolutionary/uniformitarian concepts of Earth history influence great scientists to mould or discard evidence which appears to contradict that viewpoint.) What about modern measurements, using advanced technology such as satellites?

It is used in dating things such as bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers that were created in the relatively recent past by human activities.

­ ­You probably have seen or read news stories about fascinating ancient artifacts.

At an ar­chaeological dig, a piece of wooden tool is unearthed and the archaeologist finds it to be 5,000 years old.

A child mummy is found high in the Andes and the archaeologist says the child lived more than 2,000 years ago.

How do scientists know how old an object or human remains are?

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    Imagine a tank with water flowing in at a certain rate, and flowing out again at the same rate (see diagram below). If you saw it for the first time, you wouldn’t be able to work out how old it was—how long it had been since it was ‘switched on’. Imagine the same tank, this time it is not yet full and the top tap is flowing more quickly than the bottom one is leaking out—this gives you a way of measuring how long ago the whole system was ‘switched on’ and it also tells you that that can’t have been too long ago (see diagram above).

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