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A radiocarbon dating question


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#16    Harte

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 03:43 AM

View PostRiaan, on 15 July 2013 - 08:27 PM, said:

I am having trouble explaining myself, it seems. I assume that when an organism dies, its carbon composition is frozen. The C14 isotopes then start decaying and from this decay, which can be measured (this may be where I am going wrong), the age of organism can be calculated. Let's say the carbon reservoir and carbon absorption of a plant is constant and has never changed throughout history - will there be a need for calibration?  One would simply determine the C14 decay and calculate the age of the organism. In my hypothetical example I assume this to have been the case at those two moments in time. To me it looks like RC calibration makes no provision for this example.
A plant that lived 9,000 years previous to another plant might have more (or less) C14 than its counterpart because during the older plants life, there was more (or less) C14 in the atmosphere than there was during the younger plant's life.

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#17    questionmark

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 08:07 AM

View PostSwede, on 16 July 2013 - 12:47 AM, said:

QM - With all due respect, and as Insanity pointed out, 14C (and 13C) are both isotopes of 12C. From a metabolic perspective, lifeforms utilize 14C in the same manner(s) as 12C, hence their incorporation. Due to the metabolic incorporation aspect, induced 14C is utilized as a marker in current medical research.

While the isotope 14C does decay to 14N, prior to decay it is considered to be a carbon.

.

Chemically until it decays it is a carbon like isotope, not carbon. And because most people don't get that they have problems with understanding carbon dating.

Edited by questionmark, 16 July 2013 - 08:13 AM.

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#18    Riaan

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 03:40 PM

View PostHarte, on 16 July 2013 - 03:43 AM, said:

A plant that lived 9,000 years previous to another plant might have more (or less) C14 than its counterpart because during the older plants life, there was more (or less) C14 in the atmosphere than there was during the younger plant's life.

Harte

Hi Harte,

Perhaps my formulation of the problem is incorrect - would it have been possible for the atmospheric conditions to be the identical 9000 years apart? If so, calibration of the data presents a problem. If not, calibration will be required.

I am assuming that the rate of C14 decay is fixed (exponential) and is not influenced by any other external factors during the process of decay up to the point where we modern human beings analyze it. The number of C14 atoms N(t) is described by N0 e-gt, where g is the decay constant, g=ln(2)/5730, and t=time in years. If N0 was the same 10000 and 1000 years ago, respectively, as I postulate in my example, then this simple equation should predict a difference of exactly 9000 years. If you calibrate these dates, the difference becomes 10500 years. How is this possible, unless N0 was different at these two points in time?

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#19    questionmark

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 03:55 PM

View PostRiaan, on 16 July 2013 - 03:40 PM, said:

Hi Harte,

Perhaps my formulation of the problem is incorrect - would it have been possible for the atmospheric conditions to be the identical 9000 years apart? If so, calibration of the data presents a problem. If not, calibration will be required.

I am assuming that the rate of C14 decay is fixed (exponential) and is not influenced by any other external factors during the process of decay up to the point where we modern human beings analyze it. The number of C14 atoms N(t) is described by N0 e-gt, where g is the decay constant, g=ln(2)/5730, and t=time in years. If N0 was the same 10000 and 1000 years ago, respectively, as I postulate in my example, then this simple equation should predict a difference of exactly 9000 years. If you calibrate these dates, the difference becomes 10500 years. How is this possible, unless N0 was different at these two points in time?

Because in those 9000 years there could have been a flare of solar activity, therefore more cosmic radiation and with that more C14, just as an example.

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#20    Riaan

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 04:02 PM

View Postquestionmark, on 16 July 2013 - 03:55 PM, said:

Because in those 9000 years there could have been a flare of solar activity, therefore more cosmic radiation and with that more C14, just as an example.

I am not disputing that N0 could have been different, as for example due to your flare of solar activity. However, in my example I assume that there was a modern scientist who recorded the atmospheric conditions exactly 10 000 years ago, and another who did the same 1 000 years ago, and N0 turned out to be exactly the same in both cases. It is certainly a possibility that this could have happened in reality, I would think. If so, C14 decay gives a difference of 9000 years, while the calibrated difference is 10500 years.

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#21    cormac mac airt

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 04:11 PM

View PostRiaan, on 16 July 2013 - 03:40 PM, said:

Hi Harte,

Perhaps my formulation of the problem is incorrect - would it have been possible for the atmospheric conditions to be the identical 9000 years apart? If so, calibration of the data presents a problem. If not, calibration will be required.

I am assuming that the rate of C14 decay is fixed (exponential) and is not influenced by any other external factors during the process of decay up to the point where we modern human beings analyze it. The number of C14 atoms N(t) is described by N0 e-gt, where g is the decay constant, g=ln(2)/5730, and t=time in years. If N0 was the same 10000 and 1000 years ago, respectively, as I postulate in my example, then this simple equation should predict a difference of exactly 9000 years. If you calibrate these dates, the difference becomes 10500 years. How is this possible, unless N0 was different at these two points in time?

Possible, yes. But evidenced, then no:


Quote

A series of 14C measurements in Ocean Drilling Program cores from the tropical Cariaco Basin, which have been correlated to the annual-layer counted chronology for the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 (GISP2) ice core, provides a high-resolution calibration of the radiocarbon time scale back to 50,000 years before the present. Independent radiometric dating of events correlated to GISP2 suggests that the calibration is accurate. Reconstructed 14C activities varied substantially during the last glacial period, including sharp peaks synchronous with the Laschamp and Mono Lake geomagnetic field intensity minimal and cosmogenic nuclide peaks in ice cores and marine sediments. Simulations with a geochemical box model suggest that much of the variability can be explained by geomagnetically modulated changes in 14C production rate together with plausible changes in deep-ocean ventilation and the global carbon cycle during glaciation.

http://courses.washi...-50ka_Sci04.pdf

cormac

Edited by cormac mac airt, 16 July 2013 - 04:12 PM.

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#22    questionmark

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 04:23 PM

View PostRiaan, on 16 July 2013 - 04:02 PM, said:

I am not disputing that N0 could have been different, as for example due to your flare of solar activity. However, in my example I assume that there was a modern scientist who recorded the atmospheric conditions exactly 10 000 years ago, and another who did the same 1 000 years ago, and N0 turned out to be exactly the same in both cases. It is certainly a possibility that this could have happened in reality, I would think. If so, C14 decay gives a difference of 9000 years, while the calibrated difference is 10500 years.

Not so long ago I posted in the Archeology forum (and should still be there) the methods used to reconstruct the biological conditions of the past (including carbon ratios), one very popular is to collect samples out of the beds of ancient lakes, as seen here:

Posted Image

Every layer you see here represents a year in geological history, and every one has samples from which you can determine the abnormalities due to climate or solar activity. Before I forget it, every layer here is between 1/4 and 1" thick.

Edited by questionmark, 16 July 2013 - 04:25 PM.

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#23    Oniomancer

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 04:53 PM

View Postquestionmark, on 16 July 2013 - 08:07 AM, said:

Chemically until it decays it is a carbon like isotope, not carbon. And because most people don't get that they have problems with understanding carbon dating.

That makes no sense. If it's still nitrogen, why don't they call it that?  You're changing the atomic number so you're changing it into another element, how ever impermanently. It even has a very specific place on the nuclide table:

https://en.wikipedia...ides_(complete)

If we accept your argument, then no isotopes or transuranics exist as discrete elements because they all decay into something else from the initial nuclear reaction that created them, the latter artificially.

It's a convenient way of thinking of it I suppose but it's not accurate.

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#24    questionmark

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 04:58 PM

View PostOniomancer, on 16 July 2013 - 04:53 PM, said:

That makes no sense. If it's still nitrogen, why don't they call it that?  You're changing the atomic number so you're changing it into another element, how ever impermanently. It even has a very specific place on the nuclide table:

https://en.wikipedia...ides_(complete)

If we accept your argument, then no isotopes or transuranics exist as discrete elements because they all decay into something else from the initial nuclear reaction that created them, the latter artificially.

It's a convenient way of thinking of it I suppose but it's not accurate.

As long as they decay they are what they decay into, being bombarded by neutrons and by that changing molecular bounding properties is an aberration of the natural state, not a new state.

Let me simplify that: Even dressed in silk a monkey remains a monkey.

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#25    Riaan

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 04:59 PM

View Postcormac mac airt, on 16 July 2013 - 04:11 PM, said:

Possible, yes. But evidenced, then no:

http://courses.washi...-50ka_Sci04.pdf

cormac

Thanks, a very useful reference. You may remember the reason behind all my questions - in my book Thera and the Exodus I, link many others, link the biblical plagues of Egypt and the Exodus to an eruption of Thera. I show that that the eruption must have occurred during the reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1360 BCE.  However, this link is summarily rejected by scholars as the final eruption of Thera was dated to ca. 1613 BCE by the RC dating of an olive tree found in Thera's ash.

It is perhaps more than a coincidence that the uncalibrated RC date for the calibrated date of 1610 BCE is 1364 BCE, which is very close to my postulated date. Assuming that 1360 BCE was the actual year of the eruption, the result of the RC dating process of the olive tree would have shown a decay to 66.4% (1360 BCE is 3373 years ago, exp(-3373g)=0.664, N0=1). If, however, the eruption occurred in 1613 BCE (3626 years ago), what value of N0 would give the same level of decay? The answer is N0 = 0.664/exp(-3626g) = 1.031. In other words, a 3% change in N0 results in a 253 year difference, for the same level of decay. How accurately can scientists predict the C14 content of the atmosphere that long ago?

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#26    Oniomancer

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:17 PM

View Postquestionmark, on 16 July 2013 - 04:58 PM, said:

As long as they decay they are what they decay into, being bombarded by neutrons and by that changing molecular bounding properties is an aberration of the natural state, not a new state.

Let me simplify that: Even dressed in silk a monkey remains a monkey.

So uranium is really just lead and plutonium is mostly imaginary. Right.

To quote from Angel and the Ape, if I hit you with a hammer and that hammer disappears, you've still been hit with a hammer.

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#27    cormac mac airt

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:25 PM

View PostRiaan, on 16 July 2013 - 04:59 PM, said:

Thanks, a very useful reference. You may remember the reason behind all my questions - in my book Thera and the Exodus I, link many others, link the biblical plagues of Egypt and the Exodus to an eruption of Thera. I show that that the eruption must have occurred during the reign of Amenhotep III, ca. 1360 BCE.  However, this link is summarily rejected by scholars as the final eruption of Thera was dated to ca. 1613 BCE by the RC dating of an olive tree found in Thera's ash.

It is perhaps more than a coincidence that the uncalibrated RC date for the calibrated date of 1610 BCE is 1364 BCE, which is very close to my postulated date. Assuming that 1360 BCE was the actual year of the eruption, the result of the RC dating process of the olive tree would have shown a decay to 66.4% (1360 BCE is 3373 years ago, exp(-3373g)=0.664, N0=1). If, however, the eruption occurred in 1613 BCE (3626 years ago), what value of N0 would give the same level of decay? The answer is N0 = 0.664/exp(-3626g) = 1.031. In other words, a 3% change in N0 results in a 253 year difference, for the same level of decay. How accurately can scientists predict the C14 content of the atmosphere that long ago?

Pretty accurately considering it's matched with dendrochronology as well as ages of lake bed settlements, etc. Also, an un-calibrated date will give one a date that is several hundreds of years younger than an item actually is. Which makes the 1364 BCE date in your example meaningless as it's already in error. That's why calibrated dates are used. Another good article on C14 can be found here:

http://www.talkorigi...owgood-c14.html

cormac

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#28    questionmark

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:27 PM

View PostOniomancer, on 16 July 2013 - 05:17 PM, said:

So uranium is really just lead and plutonium is mostly imaginary. Right.

To quote from Angel and the Ape, if I hit you with a hammer and that hammer disappears, you've still been hit with a hammer.


The question here is not with what you hit me but the nature of it. That many errors were committed (and still are used as convention) while defining elements does not change their nature. And they are certainly not useful when you are trying to explain the decay process of atoms containing more neutrons than can be bound by it in a stable fashion.

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#29    Riaan

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:52 PM

View Postcormac mac airt, on 16 July 2013 - 05:25 PM, said:

Pretty accurately considering it's matched with dendrochronology as well as ages of lake bed settlements, etc. Also, an un-calibrated date will give one a date that is several hundreds of years younger than an item actually is. Which makes the 1364 BCE date in your example meaningless as it's already in error. That's why calibrated dates are used. Another good article on C14 can be found here:

http://www.talkorigi...owgood-c14.html

cormac

Would the C12/C14 atmospheric ratio be the same in the middle of a forest (presumably where the RC dated trees were found) and on an island in the sea (Thera) to within 3%? 3% is a very small difference.

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Barbelo - The Story of Jesus Christ, published October 2014, details here

#30    NatureBoff

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:53 PM

View Postquestionmark, on 16 July 2013 - 03:55 PM, said:



Because in those 9000 years there could have been a flare of solar activity, therefore more cosmic radiation and with that more C14, just as an example.
The millennial cycle, most likely 1800yr lunar tidal cycle imv, is also a factor. It could also be influences from inside the Earth too.

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