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Once an organism dies the carbon is no longer replaced.Because the radiocarbon is radioactive, it will slowly decay away.For radiocarbon dating to be possible, the material must once have been part of a living organism.

Libby of the University of Chicago in immediate post-WW2 years.Libby later received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960: (From Taylor, 1987).We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].Nyerup's words illustrate poignantly the critical power and importance of dating; to order time.Oakley (1979) suggested its development meant an almost complete re-writing of the evolution and cultural emergence of the human species.

Desmond Clark (1979) wrote that were it not for radiocarbon dating, "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation" (Clark, 1979:7).Radiocarbon dating is one of the most widely used scientific dating methods in archaeology and environmental science.It can be applied to most organic materials and spans dates from a few hundred years ago right back to about 50,000 years ago - about when modern humans were first entering Europe.Radiocarbon dating has been one of the most significant discoveries in 20th century science.Renfrew (1973) called it 'the radiocarbon revolution' in describing its impact upon the human sciences.Common materials for radiocarbon dating are: The radiocarbon formed in the upper atmosphere is mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. Because the carbon present in a plant comes from the atmosphere in this way, the radio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in the plant is virtually the same as that in the atmosphere.