I'm confident that we can improve the accuracy of carbon dating somewhat, but only if we acknowledge and carefully study the various factors which may play a role in how reliable our foundational assumptions are.
In order for carbon dating to by accurate certain foundational assumptions must first be true.
And finally, we must assume that there hasn't been any contamination in the specimen which we are attempting to date.
Scientific research has called the first two assumptions into question.
The older a sample is, the less (the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed) is about 5,730 years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50,000 years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples.
Y., reported today in the British journal Nature that some estimates of age based on carbon analyses were wrong by as much as 3,500 years.
DR FIONA PETCHEY We use several different sorts of standards.
The two most common are a modern standard, which is called ANU Sucrose, and we know exactly the age of that standard.
It is too soon to know whether the discovery will seriously upset the estimated dates of events like the arrival of human beings in the Western Hemisphere, scientists said.
But it is already clear that the carbon method of dating will have to be recalibrated and corrected in some cases.