Sunday, May 1, 2011

Could all our carbon dating be wrong?

I am no chemist or physicist, just wondering what the science buffs amongst you think after reading this article? What are your thoughts on the potential implications for archaeology?

Here's a quote from the article:

Carbon-14 has a very defined half-life of 5730 years; i.e. it takes 5,730 years for half of a sample of carbon-14 to radioactively decay into stable nitrogen-14. Through spectroscopic analysis of the ancient organic sample, by finding out what proportion of carbon-14 remains, we can accurately calculate how old it is.

But as you can see, carbon dating makes one huge assumption: radioactive decay rates remain constant and always have been constant. If this new finding is proven to be correct, even if the impact is small, it will throw the science community into a spin.

Interestingly, researchers at Purdue first noticed something awry when they were using radioactive samples for random number generation. Each decay event occurs randomly (hence the white noise you'd hear from a Geiger counter), so radioactive samples provide a non-biased random number generator.

However, when they compared their measurements with other scientists' work, the values of the published decay rates were not the same. In fact, after further research they found that not only were they not constant, but they'd vary with the seasons. Decay rates would slightly decrease during the summer and increase during the winter.


  1. carbon dating has always been wrong not only due to changes in the environment. But also the fact that their has many numerous carbon studies of animals which were still living and yet were dated thousands of years old. And also animals which have been dead for only a short time like a few years were dated to be tens of thousands of years old. The Earth and every thing in it could easily be under 100,000 years old but their is big bias in the scientific community which would never allow a true debate. Send scientists bones from a a dinosaur and do not tell him that its a dinosaur and after they test using carbon dating I guarantee they will tell you its under 100,000 years old. something that will help with carbon dating is blind studies.

  2. Use simple math and 213 years ago there were 1 billion people and today in the year 2013 there are 7 billion. Assuming the rate of growth in population is near the same then extrapolate back and u will find humans have only existed on Earth for around 5000-6000 years. Not millions of years that scientists think. Clearly science when it comes to history is a bunch of hocus pocus. Humans didn't evolve from Apes, we were created by God. :)

  3. An archeologist on TV just said the pacific plate was sliding under north America for 100 million years before the San Andreas fault was formed. That just seemed like a really long time to me so I did some web searching on carbon dating and found this site. It is an interesting question. Like could the earth really not be flat which got Galileo in trouble. Is the science sound?