Bonnie Booker, 30 years old
If, in the year AD , you had asked an educated European how old the planet Earth was and to recount its history he would have said that it was about years old and that its ancient history was given by the biblical account in Genesis. If you asked the same question of an educated European in AD you would have received a quite different answer. He would have answered that the Earth was ancient, that there had not been a Noachian flood, and that the species of life had not been fixed over the history of Earth. In short, Genesis was an allegory and not literal history. The story of this great change in the conception of the history of Earth is not a simple one.
Radiocarbon dating also referred to as carbon dating or carbon dating is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbona radioactive isotope of carbon. The method was developed in the late s by Willard Libbywho received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in It is based on the fact that radiocarbon 14 C is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen. The how many methods of radiometric dating are there 14 C combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxidewhich is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis ; animals then acquire 14 C by eating the plants. When the animal or plant dies, it stops exchanging carbon with its environment, and from that point onwards the amount of 14 C it contains begins to decrease as the 14 C undergoes radioactive decay. Measuring the amount of 14 C in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died. The older a sample is, the less 14 C there is to be detected, and because the half-life of 14 C the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed is about 5, years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50, years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples. Research has been ongoing since the s to determine what the proportion of 14 C in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years.
Until the 18th century, this question was principally in the hands of theologians, who based their calculations on biblical chronology. Bishop James Ussher, a 17th-century Irish cleric, for example, calculated that creation occurred in B. There were many other such estimates, but they invariably resulted in an Earth only a few thousand years old. By the late 18th century, some naturalists had begun to look closely at the ancient rocks of the Earth. They observed that every rock formation, no matter how ancient, appeared to be formed from still older rocks.
How many methods of radiometric dating are there
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Carbon dating is used to determine the age of biological artifacts up to 50, years old. This technique is widely used on recent artifacts, but educators and students alike should note that this technique will not work on older fossils like those of the dinosaurs alleged to be millions of years old. This technique is not restricted to bones; it can also be used on cloth, wood and plant fibers. Carbon dating has been used successfully on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Minoan ruins and tombs of the pharaohs among other things. Carbon is a radioactive isotope of carbon. The half-life of carbon is approximately 5, years. The short half-life of carbon means it cannot be used to date fossils that are allegedly extremely old, e. The question should be whether or not carbon can be used to date any artifacts at all? The answer is not simple. There are a few categories of artifacts that can be dated using carbon; however, they cannot be more 50, years old.
The age of the Earth is 4. Following the development of radiometric age-dating in the early 20th century, measurements of lead in uranium-rich minerals showed that some were in excess of a billion years old. It is hypothesised that the accretion of Earth began soon after the formation of the calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions and the meteorites. Because the exact amount of time this accretion process took is not yet known, and the predictions from different accretion models range from a few million up to about million years, the exact age of Earth is difficult to determine. It is also difficult to determine the exact age of the oldest rocks on Earth, exposed at the surface, as they are aggregates of minerals of possibly different ages.
Smith is known as the Father of English Geology. Oxford Library. Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods. Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better. Other critics, perhaps more familiar with the data, question certain aspects of the quality of the fossil record and of its dating. These skeptics do not provide scientific evidence for their views. Current understanding of the history of life is probably close to the truth because it is based on repeated and careful testing and consideration of data. The rejection of the validity of fossils and of dating by religious fundamentalists creates a problem for them:.