did garrett hedlund dating leighton meester - Possible errors in carbon dating

As samples get older, errors are magnified, and assumptions can render carbon dating all but useless.

For example, variations in greenhouse effects and solar radiation change how much carbon-14 a living organism is exposed to, which drastically changes the “starting point” from which a radiocarbon dating test is based.

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Most archaeological items can’t be directly carbon dated, so their dating is based on testing done on nearby objects or materials.

This makes the results subject to the researchers’ assumptions about those objects.

So even brand-new samples contain incredibly tiny quantities of radiocarbon.

Eventually, the amount of carbon-14 remaining is so small that it’s all but undetectable.

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.

Scientists must assume how much carbon-14 was in the organism when it died.

Complicating matters is the fact that Earth’s carbon-14 concentrations change drastically based on various factors.

In short, carbon dating is as useful as any other technique, so long as it’s done properly and the results are objectively interpreted.

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