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By Jennifer Newton for MailOnline. Fragments of the world's oldest Koran, found in Birmingham last month, may predate the Prophet Muhammad and could even rewrite the early history of Islam, according to scholars. The pages, thought to be between 1, and 1, years old, were discovered bound within the pages of another Koran from the late seventh century at the library of the University of Birmingham. Written in ink in an early form of Arabic script on parchment made from animal skin, the pages contain parts of the Suras, or chapters, 18 to 20, which may have been written by someone who actually knew the Prophet Muhammad - founder of the Islamic faith. Scroll down for video. Fragments of what is believed to be the world's oldest Koran. Several historians have said it could even predate the Prophet Muhammad. The discovery was said to be particularly significant as in the early years of Islam, the Koran was thought to have been memorised and passed down orally rather written.
Archaeological finds oldest carbon dating have helped researchers to fill out the story of human evolution and migration. An essential piece of information in this research is the age of the fossils and artifacts. How do scientists determine their ages? Here are more details on a few of the methods used to date objects discussed in "The Great Human Migration" SmithsonianJuly
Whenever the worldview of evolution is questioned, the topic of carbon dating always comes up. Here is how carbon dating works and the assumptions it is based upon. Radiation from the sun strikes the atmosphere of the earth all day long. This energy converts about 21 pounds of nitrogen into radioactive carbon
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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 radiocarbon , a radioactive isotope of carbon. The method was developed in the late s by Willard Libby , who 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 resulting 14 C combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide , which 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. The resulting data, in the form of a calibration curve, is now used to convert a given measurement of radiocarbon in a sample into an estimate of the sample's calendar age.
They're totally busted! In , nearly two pounds of still-green plant material were found in a 2,year-old grave in Mongolia's Gobi Desert. It was identified as the world's oldest marijuana stash. A barrage of tests proves that the marijuana possessed potent psychoactive properties and casts doubt on the theory that the ancients only grew the plant for hemp in order to make clothing, rope, and other objects. They apparently were getting high, too. Lead author Ethan Russo told Discovery News that the marijuana "is quite similar" to what's grown today. In , a 5,year-old piece of chewing gum, the oldest ever discovered, was found by a British archaeology student in Finland. The Neolithic gum, made from birch bark tar, had tooth prints in it.