Sunday, March 29, 2015

How Old is Old – Part IV

Continuing with the understanding of radiocarbon dating (Carbon-14), and the time clock Willard F. Libby invented to read the ages of the past used constantly by archaeologists and anthropologists in determining the age of past civilizations.
    Whenever we discuss dates and ages of past civilizations and compare them to the scriptural record in the Book of Mormon, there are always questions that come up about radiocarbon dating and how these dates are inconsistent with the scriptural record.
    First of all, we need to understand the significance of whether the atmosphere (the basis of Carbon-14 and Libby’s time clock) is in equilibrium or not in equilibrium. As every professional in any scientific discipline knows, even molecules have to evolve, so starting with a good dose of evolutionary Big Bang Hydrogen and evolving through Carbon 12 and eventually heavy elements, planet earth, life and radioactive Carbon-14 which took millions of years, there should have been plenty of time for C14/C12 to reach equilibrium, even if we started with no carbon 14 in earth’s atmosphere. So what then is to be done with an atmosphere in which C14/C12 is not yet in equilibrium? The obvious implication is the atmosphere is not as old as commonly believed—not by a long shot—and the importance of that one subject is as significant as any in the scientific world.
    Consequently, former Los Alamos Nuclear Physicist Dr. Tom Hayward was asked to calculate how long it would take to build Carbon-14 up to its current level starting from zero, and to graph the results. 
The time for formation rate of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere to be in equilibrium with decay rate of Carbon-14 is 30,000 years
Time needed to reach current position of disequilibrium is between 13 and 16,000 years, assuming rates of C14 formation/decay are the same today as they have always been, which the time clock adherents claim it is
    Hayward’s calculations showed that it would take some 30,000 years to reach equilibrium and that equilibrium has not yet been reached since the difference between these two numbers (or charts) shows that the buildup in the biosphere hasn’t had time to catch up with production in the stratosphere. In other words, the earth’s atmosphere must be less than some fifty thousand years old—less than 30,000 years old!
    As stated in an earlier post in this series, 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.
    However, according to C. Bronk Ramsey, a geochronologist at the University of Oxford, UK,“Even Libby realized that there probably would be variation.” In the article (Science 338, pp 370374), he added, “Various geologic, atmospheric and solar processes can influence atmospheric carbon-14 levels.”
In addition, the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (left) for GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, “Since the formation of Carbon-14 is affected by Earth's magnetic field and solar activity and is therefore not constant, this relative time scale  has no absolute timestamp in calendar years; the timescale developed through the measured decay rates must thus be calibrated to indicate the age in calendar years.”
    While these statements and articles were meant to show that changes would correct the problems, that has still to be shown; however, what it does tell us is that the calibration that has been used for more than 50 years was always inaccurate since it did not take into consideration these problems—and many others that have been addressed in this blog several times in previous posts.
    So we are back to the problem of the radiocarbon time clock developed by Libby, since he was the one who set it to read that the earth was millions of years old. In an article by Ewen Callaway in Nature News (18 October 2012), the statement is made: “Carbon dating is used to work out the age of organic material through measuring carbon-14 which decays at a steady rate…But that assumes that the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere was constant—any variation would speed up or slow down the clock.”
    Again, the point is, that everywhere you turn, those professionals working with radiocarbon dating have found problems in the dating procedure and more importantly, in the results. Stated differently, radiocarbon dating has undergone a continual revisable history that has been made in attempts to overcome the incessant problems that keep cropping up showing errors in the method, system and/or results.
    The system is obviously in need of an overhaul! However, the problem lies in science’s insistence that it can be corrected by tweaking this problem or that without delving into the actual reason the problems keep occurring—its basis calculations are inaccurate and were set to the wrong concept of equilibrium.
As pointed out in the previous three articles in this series, the main problem is that the clock has been erroneously set to measure Carbon-14 dissolution based on the atmosphere being in equilibrium, i.e., that an equal amount of Carbon-14 is decaying from, or leaving, the atmosphere matching the new amounts that are entering. This is a huge fallacy, and the list of those scientists who have pointed this out is quite long, beginning with Melvin A. Cook, the noted American chemist, receiving his Ph.D in Physical Chemistry from Yale University in 1937, and later serving as President of IRECO Chemicals and Professor of Metallurgy and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah. Cook as early as 1963 noted through experimentation that Libby’s claim to an atmosphere in equilibrium was false (see Scientific Prehistory: A Sequel of Prehistory and Earth Models (1993).
    In fact, there are those professionals (Cook, Henry Morris, Robert L. Whtielaw, to name a few) who claim that the atmospheric Carbon-14 is presently only one-third of the way to an equilibrium value, which will be reached in about 30,000 years. If this is true, and test after test supports that it is, it nullifies the carbon-14 method as well as demonstrating that the earth is around 10,000 years old.
In a simplistic diagram, the water in the barrel represents the Carbon-14 in the atmosphere, and the water coming in represents the Carbon-14 being added to the atmosphere, and the leaking water represents the decay of the Carbon-14. Window A: Now, if the inflow is steady, and if equilibrium has not been reached, the water will continue to rise (note arrow). Window B: On the other hand, if equilibrium has been reached, then the water in the barrel will not rise, but remain steady (note arrow)
    Yet, if true, one might wonder why the scientific world would be using the Carbon-14 method if it were so obviously flawed. To understand this, we need to recognize that there are two completely opposed beliefs in the scientific world involving this discipline: 1) Those who believe in a God-created and God-directed world; and 2) Those who reject God. Thus, the rejectionists cannot accept a world that is less than 60,000 years old, especially as young as 10,000 years or so, since that would validate (at least to some degree) the Biblical world and God.
    Perhaps an even greater problem lies with the assumptions made regarding the tests shown above in the two graphs. Did anyone notice that the graphs above illustrate the biggest assumption used in Carbon-14 dating; that the amount of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere is the same today as it was when the object being studied died. How could anyone know that? If something died in, say, 2000 B.C., who today was around to have known what the Carbon-14 level was in the atmosphere at that time? Yet, Libby and his colleagues decided to assume that it was the same as today.
    Big assumption!
(See the next post in this series, “How Old is Old? – Part V,” to see how and why Libby’s clock was set to read the wrong time for radiocarbon dating and what impact that has on our understanding the past and the age of the Earth)

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