Pitfalls of dating


This led Libby to write in 1963: “ The data [in the Table] are separated into two groups Egyptian and non-Egyptian. The combined efforts of several researchers led them to believe that one of the conditions stipulated by Libby for a flawless functioning of his method was not historically sustained; it is claimed that the influx of cosmic rays varied with time.This separation was made because the whole Egyptian chronology is interlocking and subject to possible systematic errors . .” Also, “ Egyptian historical dates beyond 4000 years ago may be somewhat too old, perhaps 5 centuries too old at 5000 years ago. Yet, since this influx comes from many sources, the sun being only one of them, sunspot activity could be related to the variation only in a very limited degree.In 1950 in the American Journal of Science (the present publisher of Radiocarbon) a review was published by its editor, Yale geologist Longwell, with a rejection of my entire theory on the basis that oil is never found in Recent formations, being itself many millions of years old. One of the early radiocarbon datings of petroleum and petroleum-bearing formation on and off-shore in the Gulf area was by P. A third confirmation also concerned one of the important conclusions of Worlds in Collision.

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We must also evaluate the basic reliance on Egyptian chronology that, as we shall see, needs to be discontinued.As years passed and more tests were made (soon by laboratories counted in scores), a rather consistent deviation between radiocarbon age and historical age started to receive the attention of researchers.The radiocarbon dates diverge from the historical dates by several hundred years (often 500 to 700), and, interestingly, in the Egyptian samples more so than in samples from most other ancient civilizations.Suess explained the phenomenon by the fact that the increased industrial use of fossil carbon in coal and in oil changed the ratio between the dead carbon C12 and the C14 (radiocarbon) in the atmosphere and therefore also in the biosphere.

In centuries to come a body of a man or animal who lived and died in the 20th century would appear paradoxically of greater age since death than the body of a man or animal of the 19th century, and if the process of industrial use of fossil, therefore dead, carbon continues to increase, as it is expected will be the case, the paradox will continue into the forthcoming centuries.

Bursts of cosmic rays and of electrical discharges on an interplanetary scale would make organic-life surviving the catastrophes much richer in radiocarbon and therefore, when carbon dated, that organic matter would appear much closer to our time than actually true.


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