Bye, Carbon Dating, it's been nice knowing you


A wide array of scientific disciplines and industries use radio- carbon analyses; for example, it is used in dating of archaeo- logical specimens and in forensic identification of human and wildlife tissues, including traded ivory. Over the next century, fossil fuel emissions will produce a large amount of CO2 with no 14C because fossil fuels have lost all 14C over millions of years of radioactive decay. Atmospheric CO2, and therefore newly produced organic material, will appear as though it has “aged,” or lost 14C by decay. By 2050, fresh organic material could have the same 14C/C ratio as samples from 1050, and thus be indistinguishable by radiocarbon dating. Some current ap- plications for 14C may cease to be viable, and other applications will be strongly affected.

The pdf seems to be free, for now.


We can just correct for it with a fleet of C-14 spewing zeppelins.


Comment from a colleague:

This comes as no surprise to me, Cary. F. S. Rowland, who worked for Libby around the time of Libby’s original work on radiocarbon dating at the University of Chicago, told me in the 1980’s he figured this would eventually happen due to the use of fossil fuels changing the C-14 baseline content in organic matter.


Didn’t atomic weapons already ruin radiocarbon dating for future generations?


Interesting. Thanks.


What can’t you correct with a fleet of zeppelins?!?


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