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Question: "Is carbon dating a reliable method for determining the age of things? Several factors affect radiocarbon test results, not all of which are easy to control objectively. Carbon dating is reliable within certain parameters but certainly not infallible. When testing an object using radiocarbon dating, several factors have to be considered: First, carbon dating only works on matter that was once alive, and it only determines the approximate date of death for that sample. For example, a steel spearhead cannot be carbon dated, so archaeologists might perform testing on the wooden shaft it was attached to. This provides good information, but it only indicates how long ago that piece of wood was cut from a living tree. Nor can it tell if a much older spearhead was attached to a brand-new shaft.

Forums Physics Other Physics Topics. Questions about carbon dating.

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Thread starter nabeel17 Start date May 3, Before I start, I'm not some young earth believer or anything, just want to understand how it works and if the assumptions are fair.

So my understanding of carbon dating is that the ratio of C14 to C 12 is known About 1 trillion to 1 and it is the same in the atmosphere as it is in organic material.

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Sicne C14 is not stable, it decays and the ratio in the organic compound becomes smaller and smaller since no more C14 is being produced. Using this you can estimate how old the thing was.

Carbon dating. the radioactive element carbon has a half-life of years. The percentage of Carbon present in the remains of organic matter can be used to date the age of the organic matter. Archeologists discovered that the linen wrapping from one end of the Dead Sea Scrolls had lost of its Carbon at the time it was found. IM Commentary. The task requires the student to use logarithms to solve an exponential equation in the realistic context of carbon dating, important in . Carbon dating uses an exponential decay function, C(t) = et, to show the percentage of carbon remaining in an object that is t years old. In other words, this function takes in a number of years, t, as its input value and gives back an .

Questions Once something dies, it can no longer produce an C12 or C 14 correct? How do we know the ratio of C14 to C12 to be constant. Has it always been 1 to 1 trillion. It seems to me if this is wrong, the whole thing falls apart. What assumptions do we base that this ratio is constant on?

Carbon dating is based upon the decay of 14 C, a radioactive isotope of carbon with a relatively long half-life ( years). While 12 C is the most abundant carbon isotope, there is a close to constant ratio of 12 C to 14 C in the environment, and hence in the molecules, cells, and tissues of living organisms. We can use a formula for carbon 14 dating to find the answer. Where t 1/2 is the half-life of the isotope carbon 14, t is the age of the fossil (or the date of death) and ln is the natural logarithm function. If the fossil has 35of its carbon 14 still, then .

How doe we determine the half life of Carbon in the first place, or any element at that? Nugatory Mentor. Once something dies, it can no longer produce an C12 or C 14 correct?

Last edited: May 3, Nugatory said:. There is a tremendous amount of observational evidence and some very compelling theoretical arguments that it has been constant across the time span for which we use carbon dating.

Thank you all!

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So there is a slight variation in the carbon ratio over the last couple thousand years and it is non negligible? It is small but not entirely negligible. The fact that it is taken into account shows that a Scientists don't simply blindly follow untested assumptions. All assumptions are tested very carefully to the level of obsession b The final results are very accurate because even small effects are taken into account.

Actually it does vary slightly.

Radiometric Dating Debunked in 3 Minutes

This has been studied by using samples from tree rings, and the results are incorporated into a calibration curve. Vanadium 50 Staff Emeritus.

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Science Advisor. Education Advisor. Before I start, I'm not some young earth believer or anything. Vanadium 50 said:. Carbon dating is not used to date the age of the earth. As you've read from other posts, it dates when an object dies, and the earth was never alive.

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Furthermore, C has a half life of years. That means the technique starts to run out of steam at about 50, years. It's important to understand the range of validity of the test. C is a very good technique to date when a shoe worn by Cleopatra was made.

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It's not so good in dating a shoe worn by Imelda Marcos or one by Fred Flintstone. Insights Author.

Yes but young earth believers don't believe in carbon dating, so I didn't want to seem skeptical or seem like a young earth theorist by asking about it.

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carbon dating. Radioactive decay and exponential laws. Arguably, the exponential function crops up more than any other when using mathematics to describe the physical world. In the second of two articles on physical phenomena which obey exponential laws, Ian Garbett discusses radioactive decay. Jan 02,   Question: "Is carbon dating a reliable method for determining the age of things?" Answer: Carbon dating, or radiocarbon dating, like any other laboratory testing technique, can be extremely reliable, so long as all of the variables involved are controlled and understood. Several factors affect radiocarbon test results, not all of which are easy to control objectively. May 04,   Before I start, I'm not some young earth believer or anything, just want to understand how it works and if the assumptions are fair. So my understanding of carbon dating is that the ratio of C14 to C 12 is known (About 1 trillion to 1) and it is the same in the atmosphere as it is in organic material.

What makes carbon useful to scientists is that it begins to break down at a known rate. Since this rate of decay is predictable, scientists can then measure the amount of carbon in the remains of an organism or artifact, plug that value into a generalized equation, and calculate the age of those remains.

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This process, known as carbon dating, was developed by the American chemist Willard Libby in at the Institute for Nuclear Studies at Columbia University.

In other words, this function takes in a number of years, tas its input value and gives back an output value of the percentage of carbon remaining. So, if you were asked to find out carbon's half-life value the time it takes to decrease to half of its original sizeyou'd solve for t number of years when C t equals 50, because fifty percent represents one half.

Carbon dating does have certain limitations.

Carbon dating math questions

After about 50, - 70, years, almost all of the carbon in any remains will have broken down. So, objects older than that do not contain enough of the isotope to be dated.

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Conversely, the method doesn't work on objects that are too young. This method also cannot apply to the remains of aquatic life, because carbon doesn't enter the ocean at an amount substantial enough for proper analysis. Carbon dating also does not work on fossils; usually they are too old, and they contain very little carbon.

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In general, other factors, such as changes in solar radiation or the burning of fossil fuels, affect the accuracy of carbon dating procedures, because they cause fluctuations in the relatively constant cycle of carbon in the atmosphere. Scientific calculations, however, adjust for these minor inaccuracies.

Despite its limitations, carbon dating has proven to be an extremely useful way to determine the age of important archaeological discoveries, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Iceman remains. It has also given scientific weight to arguments surrounding controversial objects and their dates of origin. Is the Magic 8-Ball Really Magic?

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