PlanetGeo: The Geology Podcast

Carbon Dating: The Method and Misconceptions

June 02, 2022 Chris and Jesse Season 2 Episode 11
PlanetGeo: The Geology Podcast
Carbon Dating: The Method and Misconceptions
Show Notes

People often wonder, why can't we date diamonds?  Today, we answer that! 

Here, we talk through the basics of Carbon Dating, also called RadioCarbon Dating!  Radiocarbon is an awesome technique that also has some really common misconceptions about it.  We go through the basics of this amazing method, with great analogies as usual, and we cover all those misconceptions!

Carbon dating is a great tool for dating things that were once alive.  However, the half-life of Carbon-14 is 5,730 years.  This means that after something has been dead for over 50,000 years, there is virtually no Carbon-14 left to date.  This is why Carbon dating can't be used on dinosaurs (or diamonds) - no Carbon-14 remains.  

Also, Carbon dating is not an appropriate tool for dating most rocks for two reasons.  First, most rocks don't have abundant Carbon-14 when they formed.  Second, most rocks are very, very old.  Fortunately, there are many other appropriate tools that scientists can use to date rocks.  Jesse is definitely the expert in the room in this discussion.  His research involves different dating methods that he's been using for years.  We hope you enjoy the discussion.


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