The Biggest Radiocarbon Dating Mistake Ever

the biggest carbon 14 dating mistake

shroud of turin carbon dating wrong

Were the quest ions promp ted by relig ious beli efs that run cont rary to scienc e? This happ ened when the radi ocarb on test s were cond ucted in Sign up to vote on this title.

Carbon 14 Dating Mistakes with the Shroud of Turin (Updated in 2008)

Suppose that the Shroud remained growth-free right up to around the middle of the 20th century, when some process, or contamination, started the layer growing. So it cannot be said that the effect of fire on C14 dating has been ruled out through the routine dating of charred materials. If not, how coul d so many scien tist s from so ma ny repu tabl e radio carb on datin g labo rator ies screw up so b adly? When the date was announced it was claimed to be accurate and there was no question about its being off by "how much? Books Great quotes from White House incumbents: As an archaeologist with 25 years of experience using C14 for the dating of excavated samples, I know what most archaeologists do when C14 produces a date which conflicts strongly with other evidence from a site: For example, if the dead wood happened to be old wood already one or two thousand years old when collected, and the fire caused a significant exchange of carbon in it, we would not be in a position to recognize the exchange today.

I have no real quarrel with this paragraph. As a radiocarbon scientist not, I must stress, an archaeologist I am familiar with the problems that can arise when a radiocarbon date apparently conflicts with prior expectations. And as an occasional bearer of bad news, I am used to having a back full of arrows! I can also say that in the great majority of cases the result of this is to reconfirm the previous result.

We should remember that if radiocarbon dating or any other technique is to be really useful we must expect it to produce new knowledge that may well conflict with what was previously thought.

The examples of anomalous dates referred to do occur, and as pointed out they are mostly well understood - which means they do not pose a further problem.

Sometimes problems do remain and we have to be prepared to either wait for a solution further down the track or start digging deeper to find out what is really going on.

But I do not think that this is the situation with respect to the Shroud. I do not know what transpired at the conference. On the face of it the suggestions made by Meacham seem quite reasonable, and if they were dismissed out of hand by others at the conference I can understand his feeling aggrieved. I am not sure what is meant by "isotopic exchange" as distinct from "contamination". If the suggestion is that 14C has preferentially migrated into the linen but not 13C and 12C, I have to say "no way!

The transfer of carbon into or out of the cloth is fundamentally either a physical or chemical process, and will include all isotopes. True, there may well be isotopic fractionation during such processes, but the extent of fractionation that occurs is nowhere near sufficient to cause an apparent shift of years in the radiocarbon age. The beauty of radiocarbon dating is that there are two stable isotopes, 12C and 13C, as well as the 14C.

The ratio of 13C to 12C can be, and always is, used to determine the degree of isotopic fractionation and correct the 14C accordingly. We can go through the process all over again, and maybe, if the Vatican agrees, that is what will happen.

If I were a betting man I would take a pretty safe wager on the result. I think we must agree to differ on this last point. Of course, at the end of the day reaching decisions on matters such as this involves making judgements, and there will always be differences of opinion on how to interpret the evidence available.

I can only say that I feel comfortable with the judgement that the radiocarbon evidence we have gives us the best available estimate of the true age of the Shroud of Turin. My problem with this argument is that it places the radiocarbon data in a special category, that of "hard evidence," as against the "soft" and more indecisive data that suggests the Shroud might be older.

The words of W. Wolfli director of one of the AMS labs which dated the Shroud samples are appropriate to bear in mind here: The existence of significant indeterminant errors occurs frequently. It could be right or it could be wrong about the real calendar age of the Shroud.

Other data which indicates an antiquity for the Shroud could, similarly, be right or wrong. Neither is more or less decisive. I will cite three examples to illustrate this. In the first few years of C14 dating, a serious discrepancy was observed with samples from early Egypt, in that the C14 "ages" were too young by several hundred years, at least according to the established chronology of dynastic history.

There were those in the radiocarbon field who argued that it was the chronology that "had to be wrong" as it was more subjective and more open to interpretation than C Secondly, one of the strongest indicators that the Shroud is much earlier than 13th or 14th century is the nail wound in the wrist. The art historian McNair wrote: Thirdly, the archaeological scientist Stuart Fleming wrote: But it seems more likely to me as one who values C14 dating and has used it for more than samples in the last 25 years that something has skewed the C14 age -- either the trauma of the fire, or the contamination represented by the bio-plastic coating discovered by Garza-Valdes, or incremental carbon exchange over the years, or very skilled medieval re-weaving at the corner where the samples were taken.

Is that "no way" as in "proven beyond any shadow of doubt," or "no way" meaning "that goes against our most cherished operating assumptions?

Reviewing the failure at Arizona to duplicate the experiments of Kouznetsov et al see below , theoretical physicists Jackson and Propp wrote: The bio-plastic coating is obviously a contaminant. Whereas exchange means to me a non-physicist that the material of the sample in this case the cellulose of the linen itself has exchanged carbon with either the atmosphere or other substances. Kouznetsov et al, writing in the Journal of Archaeological Science While their experimental work has not yet been duplicated, it deserves respect as a possible scenario.

Once again, the Shroud poses unique problems: This thread is in danger of losing its focus. Let me sum up why I entered into the discussion in the first place:. Meacham has, as on previous occasions, listed several reasons why 14C dates need to be obtained, and interpreted, with caution. Much of what he says I can agree with in principle, but although these views are presented in the context of the Shroud, if taken at face value they imply that all radiocarbon dates are unreliable.

This is not so. Most of the intensive labour that occurs in a radiocarbon laboratory is directed at avoiding the traps pointed out by Meacham - plus a raft of others as well. Garza-Valdes and Mattingly have put forward a theory to discredit the Shroud dates that at first sight appears to have a degree of scientific plausibility.

I certainly do not know that the existence of a "bioplastic layer" is not correct, and so I am not in a position to deny its existence. There seems to be the belief that by simply postulating the existence of a "contamination" the 14C dates must be discarded. But the important question is -how much- contamination is present. If it is insufficient to significantly affect a radiocarbon measurement then it is irrelevant to the argument.

The quantitative dimension is essential to this discussion. That is the essence of the problem that I have with the Garza-Valdes theory, and the objections I set out in my original posting have not been answered. Side issues such as "isotopic exchange" are just red herrings. Isotope chemistry is a well understood science, and exotic effects caused by the fire should have been observed elsewhere by now.

Radiocarbon dating of burnt or charred material is commonly done notably charcoal. Appealing to the special nature of radiocarbon because it is radioactive leads us into the area of voodoo science.

Keeping an open mind for new knowledge is one thing, but all new discoveries must account for what we already know. If the only way we can explain a particular phenomenon is by rejecting what has already been established without providing an acceptable alternative way of interpreting prior knowledge, then that explanation must be viewed with deep suspicion.

From this point of view the Shroud of Turin and Cold Fusion have a lot in common. In all such discussions I always reiterate that C14 dating is a very useful technique and that most dates are reliable. But the fact remains that some are not, for reasons unknown. The quote from Wolfli that I cited earlier bears witness to this fact, as do many instances in which C14 dates are contradicted by a host of other evidence.

The Shroud is another case in point. The fact that there is now strong evidence of contamination which would affect the C14 date of the Shroud puts the interpretation of that date in a new light.

When the date was announced it was claimed to be accurate and there was no question about its being off by "how much? The presence of an unknown and unmeasured component of the C14 age does indeed lead one to discard it.

To me it makes little sense to argue along the lines that: It cannot be discussed in quantitative terms as yet but its presence has been demonstrated. Accessibility links Skip to article Skip to navigation. Friday 16 March Turin Shroud 'could be genuine as carbon-dating was flawed' New evidence suggests the Turin Shroud could have been the cloth in which Jesus was buried, as experiments that concluded it was a medieval fake were flawed.

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Iamges: shroud of turin carbon dating wrong

shroud of turin carbon dating wrong

In the case of the Shroud, the other evidence points very strongly toward an origin for the Shroud in antiquity, not in the 13thth centuries. The Science Insider article from discusses a petition from 1, Italian scientists to block funds for piezonuclear research. This happens often in archaeology, even on sites and samples which were thought to be ideal for C14 dating.

shroud of turin carbon dating wrong

Many people bel ieve it was the bur ial cloth of Jesu s of Nazar eth and hist ory. Culture A hilarious history of political insults and putdowns, from Churchill to Corbyn. Turin Shroud could be genuine, scientist has said.

shroud of turin carbon dating wrong

These result s theref ore provi de concl usive evi denc e that the line n of the Shrou d of Turin is mediaeval. Their stance was decidedly haughty then, and now shown to be dead wrong. Is this the real face of Jesus? The art historian McNair wrote: So that scenario doesn't work.