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Is Carbon Dating Accurate? Essay, Research Paper

Is carbon dating accurate?

Carbon dating, used since 1948, is currently the main method of testing artifacts for age. My objective through this essay is to disprove the accuracy of the Carbon 14 dating method.

William Libby invented carbon dating in 1948. It works on the principle that the carbon 14-C, is radioactive. It decays at a ?known? rate called a half-life. This is balanced by the fact that 14-C is constantly produced in atmospheric reactions. Because of this, 14-C and it?s breakdown product 12-C, typically stay in balance. Carbon is passed between the ocean, atmosphere, and living things in the ?Carbon Cycle?. When an animal dies it is taken out of the carbon cycle. After this, the proportion of 14-C to 12-C steadily declines. This supposedly allows one to date an object by the proportion of 14-C to 12-C.

The problems of Carbon 14 dating are endless. A test in ?Science? (vol. 141, page 636, August 16, 1963) showed the shell from a living mollusk to be dead for 3,000 years!

Tests of Hawaiian lava flows known to be less than 200 years old have been dated up to 3 billion years old! The truth is, the time range for 14-C is unknown1! That is, the scientists themselves do not know the effective range for 14-C. Also, All carbon dates have a ?plus-minus? probable error range. The older the item, the bigger the error range. An additional problem is that the true half-life of 14-C is unknown2! Scientists are drawing ?logical? conclusions from an assumption of 14-C?s half-life!. Surrounding soil, water, vegetation and/or animal matter can even contaminate samples! When this contamination occurs, it mixes the date for the item with the date of the contaminant. Exacerbating this effect, non-living items cannot be dated! There is also the human subjectivity in carbon-14 dating. For instance, if someone found a 9.5 million year old human in an area where there was a land bridge that was there 9.25 million years ago, they could say the person is 9.25 million years ? 0.25 million years.

I hope this brief essay has swayed your view of the Carbon-14 dating method. My final words on this subject are, that even from a scientific standpoint, carbon dating cannot be accepted. There are too many errors, and too many possibilities for error.

1. I have found over 20 different values for the time range of carborn-14 dating all in scientific papers. 3 of the papers said that the value was unknown

2. Most of the papers I read indicated differences in scientific communities value for the half-life of 14-C while 1 paper directly indicated this.


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