The miracle of radiocarbon dating and emission interference are starting to get in the way of each other. Back in the time before we found out we could date an object based on carbon, archeologists, paleontologists, and other “ists” who like to dig up stuff used to simply label an object as older, or younger, judging from the area in which it had been found.
But, in the first half of the 20th century, a strange technique called radiocarbon dating started to emerge and soon became more and more popular. By the 1980s scientists all over the world literally dated through carbon measuring just about anything they could dig up, or unearth (pun intended).
Just one of the most important examples was a discovery in 1988 that could’ve never been made were it not for carbon dating. It was dubbed the “carbon-14 bombshell” by the nice guys from National Geographic. What happened?
Well, some of you may remember the Shroud of Turin. It was believed to be the garment in which Christ was buried. The Vatican suddenly had decided to authorize a carbon dating of the object. Long story short – people had been praying at it for nothing. It turns out it was just less than one thousand years old – from between 1260 and 1390.
Still the estimate was quite large, but you couldn’t exactly blame anyone. Also, there is still a 5% chance that they were wrong. But this was pretty accurate compared to what we may soon see.
A new study made by Heather D. Graven, of the Imperial Collage in London has just found that the problem of fuel emissions does not only have a negative impact on climate, but also the carbon in the atmosphere. Apparently, due to carbon emissions, we are getting older without actually getting older.
An example: if you’ll buy a T-shirt in the 2050s you may just as well have bought something about ten centuries of age, as there will be no difference in the carbon within. Scientists analyzing your T-shirt may even thing it’s what Christ wore at the Last Supper.
Radiocarbon dating is the process through which scientists measure the rate of decay of the isotope carbon-14, which is found in every single thing that had once had a bit of life in it. Due to its radioactivity, the rate of decay can be easily predicted, so scientists know what to look for.
But now, with all this carbon rising up in the atmosphere, we may by 2100 not be able to distinguish something new from something hundreds of years old. Carbon emissions are in a way becoming more and more the greatest villain of today.