Carbon-14 doesn't lie. It only lasts thousands of years and yet is plentiful in fossils and diamonds claimed to be millions and billions of years old. Real Science Radio hosts Bob Enyart and Fred Williams continue their discussion of Carbon-14 by adding to 14c factoids, presenting our List of Carbon-14 Everywhere It's Not Supposed to Be, and then they take neutron capture and knock it out of the ball park (specifically, out of Denver's Coors Field)!
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Correction: The discoverer of carbon dating is Willard, not John, Libby.
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* 14c Factoids:
- Our atmosphere has one carbon-14 atom for every one trillion carbon atoms. (one in a trillion)
- 21 pounds of 14c are produced in the atmosphere every year!
- Unstable radiocarbon decays with a half-life of 5,730 years. (half-life symbol = t1/2)
- A solid ball of 14c the size of the Earth would all decay into nitrogen in less than a million years.
- A gram of carbon has about 50 sextillion carbon atoms. (50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000)
- RSR co-host Fred has about 10 octillion total atoms in his body. (one octillion of carbon)
- Fred, a big guy, carries around about 50 billion radiocarbon atoms! (50,000,000,000)
- Fred's body experiences about 2,500 decays of 14c to nitrogen every second. (Don't tell Sandy!)
- One 14c atom in a trillion carbon atoms is referred to as 100 percent modern carbon. (100 pMC)
- Likewise, 100 14c atoms in a 100 trillion is referred to as 100 percent modern carbon. (100 pMC)
- So 50 14c atoms in a 100 trillion carbon atoms is referred to as 50 percent modern carbon. (50 pMC)
- Fifty percent modern carbon is interpreted as 5,730 years before present. (about 6,000 years BP)
- The best AMS labs accurately count 14c atoms to even 0.001 of a percent modern carbon. (100th to a 1000th pMC)
- Published lab measurements show processing introduces 1/10th to 3/10ths of a percent contamination. (~0.2 pMC)
- So lab contamination adds one 14c atom to 250 in 500 trillion carbon atoms. (Yielding 251 of 500 trillion or 50.2 pMC.)
- 14c "ages" get progressively significantly inflated as with bones from 873 AD dated to 200 years earlier.
- Pompeii, destroyed in 79 AD, was expected to give appropriate ages but gave 2400 to 5800 years BP.
- Old 14c "dates" are progressively too old and there's far too much C-14 in diamonds, etc., to be contamination!
See more at rsr.org/14c.