Number 14 carbon 14 dating denotes
Today, scientists attempt to determine the age of dead organisms by measuring the ratio of C-12 to C-14, by comparing it to an assumed but unobserved initial ratio, and determining how long it would take to get from the assumed but unobserved initial ratio at an assumed but unobserved rate of decay.Here are the key assumptions: There is one fact that makes it highly unreasonable to believe that the proportion of C-14 to C-12 was the same in the past as it has been in recent history: It is not in equilibrium.Desmond Clark (1979) wrote that were it not for radiocarbon dating, "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation" (Clark, 1979:7).Writing of the European Upper Palaeolithic, Movius (1960) concluded that "time alone is the lens that can throw it into focus"."Everything which has come down to us from heathendom is wrapped in a thick fog; it belongs to a space of time we cannot measure.We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].Carbon-14 dating is a radiometric dating technique used to deduce the approximate age of organic remains by measuring the quantity of C-14 isotopes in the sample and comparing them with current atmospheric levels.C-12 and C-14 are two different isotopes of carbon.
Both C-14 and C-12 are lost as the body decays, but they are lost proportionally, so that the proportion of C-14 to C-12 decreases slowly for thousands of years after the death of the organism.
But the calculated dates will only be accurate if the assumptions behind the method are correct.