Radiocarbon dating explained


17-Aug-2017 19:45

Radiocarbon dating can easily establish that humans have been on the earth for over twenty thousand years, at least twice as long as creationists are willing to allow.Therefore it should come as no surprise that creationists at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) have been trying desperately to discredit this method for years.“The word groundbreaking is used so often that it sometimes has lost its meaning but in today’s event, it is marking a development, the development of radiocarbon dating, [for which] the word groundbreaking is both appropriate and non-hyperbolic,” said Diermeier.“What professor Libby discovered here at the Kent Chemical Laboratories is important much as to the field of chemistry, but continues to have profound effects for our understanding in a whole variety of different areas, obviously archaeology, geology, paleontology, and fundamentally how we view the long history of human civilization.” The program also included two short lectures by UChicago professors, which further elaborated on the significance Libby’s work.To determine the relative age of different rocks, geologists start with the assumption that unless something has happened, in a sequence of sedimentary rock layers, the newer rock layers will be on top of older ones. This rule is common sense, but it serves as a powerful reference point.Geologists draw on it and other basic principles ( to determine the relative ages of rocks or features such as faults.Relative age dating also means paying attention to crosscutting relationships.Say for example that a volcanic dike, or a fault, cuts across several sedimentary layers, or maybe through another volcanic rock type.

According to Diane Grob Schmidt, the immediate past president of the ACS, every subject submitted for landmark consideration must fulfill three criteria: it must be more than 25 years old, it must represent a “seminal achievement” in chemistry, and it must have a significant contribution to society.

As she presented the plaque, Schmidt said that beyond fulfilling the criteria, Libby’s work is “a fantastic example of the transforming power of chemistry” because of its profound effects on not only areas of study but also “on ourselves” by providing a fuller understanding of our past.

In his opening remarks during the program, Provost Daniel Diermeier highlighted the importance of Libby’s work.

Radiocarbon dates can be obtained from many types of organic material including charcoal, shell, wood, bone and hair.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the living organism is equal to that in the atmosphere.

ICR creationists claim that this discredits C-14 dating. Answer: It does discredit the C-14 dating of freshwater mussels, but that's about all.