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Carbon Dating

Discussion in 'Evolution Vs. Creationism' started by dan, Jun 12, 2006.

  1. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Much of archeology and anthropology depends on the accuracy of carbon dating, the method of determining age by measuring radioative emissions from carbon 14 atoms and comparing them to the equilibrium level of living organisms. The radioactivity drops of at a constant rate. A simple calculation then gives us the age of the specimen.
    Several years ago some workers in Great Britain uncovered a human head in some peat moss by a neighborhood. There was still part of the eye intact and plenty of hair. After some preliminary studies a group had it carbon dated and placed it at 2,000 years old. The skull was then put in the British Museum. If you look up info on a head found in the Lindow Bog you'll find out that the case is pretty much closed. You'll also find that a man living near where the head was found says the head actually belongs to his wife, whom he murdered, dismembered and buried in the Bog. Scientists say he's wrong, but he is in prison for the rest of his life.

    That's all the information you'll find, but a professor from a nearby university later examined photos of the dead woman and photos of the skull and says they're too close a match. He wants the British Museum to release the skull for further studies, but they refuse.

    If carbon dating is shown to be unreliable then our idea of the universe has to change rapidly!

    The bones of an Arcocanthosaurus (this is a dinosaur) were carbon dated in the early nineties and all the dates recorded ranged from 9,890 to 36,500 years old. Interesting.

    Living trees were dated at 10,000 years old.

    Ice Age materials were dated to the first century AD.

    What say you?
     
  2. kai

    kai ragamuffin

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  3. Halcyon

    Halcyon Lord of the Badgers

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    Atoms can't lie dan, Carbon-14 becomes Carbon-12 at a measureable rate, there's no way to fake it.

    Dinosaurs can't be carbon dated dan, dinosaur fossils are made of rock, they have no carbon in.

    I say sources please.
     
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  4. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    It's measurable, but it's not always the same rate and many different things can influence how rapidly they decay. Just as people shouldn't have blind faith in religion, you shouldn't have blind faith in science. Any time they do carbon dating they test several samples and they will get a range of dates. That range can be up to 30,000 years, and that's after they throw out the dates that are no where near the other ones. Most scientists will put in the main body of work the numbers that agree with their theories, in the footmotes those that don't entirely disagree, and dismiss as erroneous the ones that don't at all agree. Does that sound like honest science?


    You don't really thnk that dinosaur bones have never been living, do you? Anything that has been living at one time or another will have these radioactive emissions, and the longer it's been dead (no matter what form it is now) it has less and less of them. The problem is that past 50,000 years it is too unreliable. The bones in this particular test had a black residue surrounding them that was figured to be a type of fossilization in which the soft tissue of an animal becomes a thin carbon film. It was ground up with the bone to get the samples.

    That particular paper was: [FONT=Times,Times New Roman]Fields, W., H. Miller, J. Whitmore, D. Davis, G. Detwiler, J. Ditmars, R. Whitelaw, and G.Novaez, 1990, "The Paluxy River Footprints Revisited"[/FONT]


    I'll get back to you on that.
     
  5. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    Last I remember, certain acids in the ground can tweak the rate. The o-zone layer can also affect it and who knows what else.
     
  6. Halcyon

    Halcyon Lord of the Badgers

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    No, it always decays at the same rate, thats how radiation works. What may differ is the amount of carbon-14 originally taken up by the plant, and this can be affected, like Victor says, by cosmic rays and other factors. This is why all carbon dating is calebrated using independant verifiable sources.

    Fossilised bone contains no original biological material, its all rock. The carbon from the biological tissue is currently powering your car.

    The problem is not that after 50,000 years the test just becomes unreliable, the problem is that Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5568 years, which means after 50,000 years there is none left. (note i made an error earlier, carbon-14 becomes nitrogen-14 not carbon-12)
     
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  7. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    No Dan. Ordinary chemical processes don't change the rate of radioactive decay. If you accelerated a specimen to near lightspeed relativistic effects might slow the decay rate, but you're not going to alter physics with any philosopher's stone.

    Carbon dating is a touchy process, though. You have to be meticulous in your procedures and the specimen must be pristine. One touch with a bare finger and you can completely skew the results.

    A typical fossil contains no organic material. They are impressions formed as actual bone, shell or cellulose molecules float off and are replaced with mineral molecules, forming an exact impression. The minerals or surrounding strata might be dated with radio potassium, uranium or rubidium, but radio carbon won't work.
    I did read about a dinosaur fossil discovered a few months ago, I think, that astounded everyone by still containing some organic material, but, being a dinosaur, it's too old for carbon dating.
    A fossil that age would normally be Potassium-Argon dated.
     
  8. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    The rate of decay is not a constant. Instead, the decay process can be described by a first order rate constant. This means that the rate of decay is proportional to the amount of material present.

    Radiocarbon dating depends on the assumption that the relative abundance of the radioactive carbon isotope in the atmosphere has been constant throughout earth's history. Estimation and tests have shown to have gotten rather close and hence why it's used. Unless something like the size and intensity of the o-zone was different in the 1200's or whatever, it's rather reliable.

    One of the few things that stuck in Bio class....:D
     
  9. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    How do you figure?
     
  10. Mr Spinkles

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    ...and you're saying, if carbon dating is inaccurate, then "much of archeology and anthropology" would be wrong, which would mean....what? That the Book of Mormon is historically accurate? :)
     
  11. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    No, carbon dating doesn't take anything away from the Book of Mormon as it is and has nothing to do with this thread, so please keep stupid accusations to yourself. If you want to argue the historical accuracy of the Book of Mormon then start a thread to do it. I started one a long time ago and no one came forth with even the slightest hint of an argument. If you want to bring that up again you go find that thread and see what you can do, but this thread has nothing to do with that.

    This thread is to discuss the implications of blind faith in a dating technique that has been shown to be inconsistent. Whether or not that consistency is the fault of human error or of the system has not been stated by me, so please don't make assumptions about what I mean with this thread either.
     
  12. scitsofreaky

    scitsofreaky Active Member

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    The weaknesses are known to scientists, so they compensate. For example, for items that are over 50,000 years carbon dating is not used. Also, it isn't used to date living organisms, which is a common argument used to show how the method is flawed. Of course the results are going to be flawed if you aren't using the method properly. Just a couple of examples for ya.
     
  13. Mr Spinkles

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    I didn't make any accusations, stupid or otherwise. I asked a simple question.

    you're saying, if carbon dating is inaccurate, then "much of archeology and anthropology" would be wrong, which would mean....what?

    Okay.

    I think it would also be fair to discuss in this thread whether the statement "blind faith in a dating technique that has shown to be inconsistent" describes "most of archeology and anthropology" in the first place.

    But let's discuss the implications. For the sake of argument, let's suppose that, as you claim, "much of archeology and anthropology" is based on carbon dating, and let's suppose that carbon dating is an innacurate method in principle and/or in practice: what are the implications, in your opinion? That humans and chimps do not share a primate ancestor? That the Earth is not 6 billion years old? I'm just asking your opinion.
     
  14. Halcyon

    Halcyon Lord of the Badgers

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    I don't know many people who have blind faith in any science, its anti-scientific. Sure there are people that appear to have faith in science because their understanding of it is very good and they can't see any workable alternative, sometimes they take it too far and refuse to accept new and scientifically possible alternatives, but this is nothing to do with science.
    Good science doesn't need an interpretor or a spokesperson, good scientific evidence speaks for itself.

    To date i trust in carbon dating as a reliable technique for giving a rough estimate of age, its normally only used to back up already well-founded suspicions anyway.
    If one day evidence is presented to me that carbon dating is unreliable, then i will have no problem in reassessing the validity of results obtained using it.
    None of the "evidence" you have given has done so, especially since you have yet to cite those sources.

    The difference between trust in science and faith is this. I'm willing to alter my beliefs in the light of new evidence, can you say the same about yours?
     
  15. Ody

    Ody Well-Known Member

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    Creatonistic Science, I love oxymorons :)
     
  16. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    My opening story was about a man who claims that a discovered skull is that of his murdered and dismembered wife, but science definitively states (solely on the grounds of carbon dating) that it is not, and that it is almost 2,000 years old. The only response I've gotten about that story is someone's statement that it is a 1,700 year old skull. Here are the problems:
    1- An eye was partially intact. I don't care what you're buried in, an eyeball cannot last for 1,700 years.
    2- The body was found exactly where the man said he buried his dismembered wife. No other dismembered bodies have been found in that same location.
    3- A professor says the skull is too similar to that of the deceased to be a coincidence.
    4- Preliminary tests concluded that it was a 38-40 year old woman, just like the husband said.

    So, one test says 1,700 years old. All the other evidence says 20, and the museum refuses to give up the skull for further testing. One person has already shown that they blindly accept the carbon dating. Does everyone else?
     
  17. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but why must any objections to science be attributed to religiousity all the time. I know you all are you used to stumping the religious folks but why not just take the objection at face by itself?
     
  18. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Everyone thinks they know exactly what everyone else is thinking and scheming. This forum is really a bunch of pretentious blowhards who want to show off their brains. I don't necessarily exclude myself from that, but I like to think I'm right all the time (wink).
     
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  19. SoyLeche

    SoyLeche meh...

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    I can accept that assessment (and I'm guilty at times).
     
  20. logician

    logician Well-Known Member

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    Carbon dating is reliable, but there are other techiniques to date fossils such as using "type" fossils that occur in the same formation. Evolution certainly is fact, its mechanism is becoming more understood every day, with punctuated equilibria being part of the equation, followed by long periods of stasis for many species.
     
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