Friday, February 19, 2010

Carbon-14 Time Clock in Error

Willard F. Libby, of the University of Chicago, the brilliant discoverer of the method of measuring radiocarbon dating of carbon-14, found through his own experimentation, that the earth was younger than 30,000 years since his own experiments showed that C-14 was not in equilibrium. That is, the earth was not old enough for the buildup carbon-14 to reach equilibrium, which would take only 30,000 years. Melvin A. Cook found that using Libby’s methods when comparing it to non-equilibrium basis, dates the earth to about 10,000 to 12,000 years of age. The question few ever ask, is why did Willard F. Libby assume the earth was in equilibrium when his experiments showed it was not?

First, the entire concept of the clock is based upon many assumptions, one of which is that it is assumed the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 has been constant for a very long time before the industrial revolution, when it was upset forcibly by the burning of huge masses of coal that released massive quantities of carbon-12 into the air. But for these assumption to be correct, upon which hangs the entire validity of this time clock and the entire system in general, the ratio had to remain the same since the specimen being measured first came into being. The question few ever ask, is why did Willard F. Libby assume this?

Secondly, the concept of equilibrium regarding carbon-14 in the world is most crucial since it is used to determine age. Equilibrium means there is an equality that is evenly balanced regarding the amount of carbon-14 forming in the earth as a whole from the bombardment of cosmic ray protons, producing neutrons which in turn bombard nitrogen, which produces the radioactive isotope carbon-14, which then decays by emission of an electron of energy, changing the carbon-14 to nitrogen-14. At equilibrium with the atmosphere, a gram of carbon shows an activity of about 15 decays per minute. It has been estimated that it would take only about 30,000 years (from the “beginning”) to reach this equilibrium stage where the amount of formation is, and remains, equal to the amount of decay. In this sense, carbon-14 formation appears to be constant, which allows for the measurement of time elapse to be made. Therefore, this equilibrium, or “steady state,” is reached with the formation and decay amounts are equal. Consequently, if the world’s carbon-14 is in equilibrium, then the earth is over 30,000 years old—if equilibrium has not yet been reached, then the earth is younger than 30,000 years old.

Thirdly, in all his measurements, Libby found that carbon-14 was entering the system some twelve per cent (12%) or more faster than it was leaving. This would indicate that the system was less than 30,000 years old, since a steady-state, or equilibrium, had not yet been reached. He called this within experimental error, but the fact is, Libby’s own experiments still showed that carbon-14 was building up on the Earth, thus proving that the planet was less than 30,000 years old. A fact he, and almost all other scientists of his day and since, have chosen to deliberately ignore.

Yet, understanding this concept allows interested people in Book of Mormon geography to understand carbon-14 dates used in Mesoamerica and the Andes and to make comparisons. While the date itself is undoubtedly wrong, the comparison between dates is important. That is, 3000 B.C. dating in Mesoamerica is obviously younger than 5,600 B.C. dating in Peru. This scientific fallacy of carbon-14 dating, and numerous other fallacies is thoroughly illustrated in my book: "Scientific Fallacies & Other Myths."


  1. Excellent post. I'm tired of archeaologists and anthropologists claiming people lived tens of thousands of years ago, or hundreds of thousands of years ago because of carbon dating. I've read Libby's book, and was always astounded that he ignored his own findings, claiming that "everyone knew the earth was much older than 30,000 years." And not another scientists has taken issue with that. What kind of science is that?

  2. It is the kind of science that permeates the scientific community today. One fallacy after another has been foistered upon the public, taught in our schools, appears in our magazines, books, and movies, as fact, yet is nothing more than guesswork called a hypothesis, establishing computer models, and in every sense promoted and sold to us as the way things are--yet, when placed under a microscope, they cannot hold up to the light of truth and reason. The real problem is, numerous scientists do not accept these hypotheses and would speak out against them, but the universities and the state control the money for research, computer time, and telescope time, and if someone wants to do research contrary to what the state wants, they are banished, allowed no grants, and provided no time on computers, satellites and scopes. As you asked, "what kind of science is that," the answer is "none at all." The scientific community has lost its way in looking for answers to questions---and every year the noose tightens around the width of what is allowed, what can be taught, and what can be researched.