At a horizon of 40, years the amount of carbon 14 in a bone or a piece of charcoal can be truly minute: The short half-life is only part of the problem when dating dinosaur bones -- researchers also have to find enough of the parent and daughter atoms to measure. Hugh Miller generously provided me with a copy of the elemental analysis of one of their dinosaur fossils. Thus, it appears that Miller et al. In fact, the article by Leppert raises a number of additional issues e. Think of the nucleus as a pyramid of building blocks.
The particular example you bring up is one of the most famous such cases. What exactly are we dating here? At a horizon of 40, years the amount of carbon 14 in a bone or a piece of charcoal can be truly minute: The bone was 68 million years old, and conventional wisdom about fossilization is that all soft tissue, from blood to brains , decomposes. In the article by Leppert, we find: The same is true if you take a block away from one of the pyramid's sides, making the rest unstable. Thus, it appears that Miller et al. Scientists can't tell whether the clock ran down a few days or millions of years ago. The ratio of parents to daughters can tell the researcher how old the specimen is. It is obvious that the CRSEF research group did a poor job in sticking to the scientific method, and that little objective value can be assigned to their supposed findings. The half-life of the isotope being measured determines how useful it is at dating very old samples. Contamination of this kind amounting to 1 percent of the carbon in a sample 25, years old would make it appear to be about 1, years younger than its actual age. They then sent it to a laboratory run by the University of Arizona, where radiocarbon dating could be carried out. In this answer, I will try to go through this story in great detail, hopefully exposing the reasons why this work is not taken seriously by scientists. Such contamination would, however, reduce the apparent age of a 60,year-old object by almost 50 percent. The element's half-life is the amount of time it takes for half the parent atoms in a sample to become daughters. But for some people, the discovery raised a different question. It is understandable that Miller et al. Clearly proper sample decontamination procedures are of particular importance in the dating of very old artifacts It is clear that the sample provided by Miller did not under go any 'sample decontamination procedures' at all, and it is therefore strongly questionable to which extent it can be used to obtain a good estimate of the age of the bones. Miller and his group accepted the samples and reassured the museum that such containments would not be problematic for the analysis at hand. The claims are really quite spectacular, when taken at face value, and therefore should be examined thoroughly. You can't predict when a specific unstable atom, or parent, will decay into a stable atom, or daughter. This means that isotopes with a short half-life won't work to date dinosaur bones. Consequently equally small quantities of modern carbon can severely skew the measurements. When the museum provided the bone fragments, they emphasized that they had been heavily contaminated with "shellac" and other chemical preservatives.
Video about dating dinosaurs:
DATING A DINOSAUR - Jurassic Heart
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