Radiocarbon dating inaccurate
You can help Amazing Discoveries reduce costs by upgrading or replacing your internet browser with one of the options below.We thank you in advance for partnering with us in this small but significant way. All methods of radioactive dating rely on three assumptions that may not necessarily be true: It is assumed that the rate of decay has remained constant over time.
In fact, it has fluctuated a great deal over the years.
This variation is caused by both natural processes and human activity.
The clock was initially calibrated by dating objects of known age such as Egyptian mummies and bread from Pompeii; work that won Willard Libby the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
But even he “realized that there probably would be variation”, says Christopher Bronk Ramsey, a geochronologist at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the latest work, published today in Science.
Scientists use a technique called radiometric dating to estimate the ages of rocks, fossils, and the earth.