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Question: A sample that is more than fifty thousand years old shouldn't have any measurable C-14. Radiocarbon dating doesn't work well on objects much older than twenty thousand years, because such objects have so little C-14 left that their beta radiation is swamped out by the background radiation of cosmic rays and potassium-40 (K-40) decay. this isotope [K-40] accounts for a large part of the normal background radiation that can be detected on the earth's surface" (p. This radiation cannot be totally eliminated from the laboratory, so one could probably get a "radiocarbon" date of fifty thousand years from a pure carbon-free piece of tin.
Ice cores, pollen, wood, hair, bone, shell, bird egg shell, and coral are some of the things datable by this technology which depends on measuring the atomic decay rate of carbon isotopes.
The oldest uncontested fossils on earth are 2 billion year-old stromatolites in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ontario.
Composed of layers of sediments laid down by colonies of cyanobacteria, stromatolites still exist, but are quite rare today.
They have their work cut out for them, however, because radiocarbon (C-14) dating is one of the most reliable of all the radiometric dating methods.
This article will answer several of the most common creationist attacks on carbon-14 dating, using the question-answer format that has proved so useful to lecturers and debaters. Answer: Cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere are constantly converting the isotope nitrogen-14 (N-14) into carbon-14 (C-14 or radiocarbon).
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These isotopes aren’t found in the fossils themselves, but in the rock encasing the fossils Geologists in the International Commission on Stratigraphy make proposals based on the most recent studies to constantly update the geologic time scale of the world’s rocks.