Carbon dating questions answers Free cyber chat room
Second, radiocarbon dating becomes more difficult, and less accurate, as the sample gets older.
The bodies of living things generally have concentrations of the isotope carbon-14, also known as radiocarbon, identical to concentrations in the atmosphere.
Several factors affect radiocarbon test results, not all of which are easy to control objectively.
For this reason, it’s preferable to date objects using multiple methods, rather than relying on one single test.
Carbon dating is reliable within certain parameters but certainly not infallible.
This makes the results subject to the researchers’ assumptions about those objects.
Modern effects such as fossil fuel burning and nuclear testing have also changed atmospheric carbon-14 levels and in turn change the “starting point” for a radiocarbon test.
All in all, setting the parameters of the carbon-14 test is more of an art than a science.
Even then, a large proportion of radiocarbon dating tests return inconsistent, or even incoherent, results, even for tests done on the same sample.
The explanation given for these outliers is usually “contamination.” Inconsistent results are another reason why multiple samples, multiples tests, and various parallel methods are used to date objects.
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The other major factor affecting the results of carbon dating is gauging the original proportion of carbon-14 itself.