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Old May 4th, 2012, 01:20 PM
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Lightbulb Carbon Dating?

How can we determine the half life of C14 is 5 thousand years, or full life of iron is over 12,000 years when we haven't lived to see it? How is it quantifiable evidence without a longitudinal study where we actually observe it decaying and time-line the data?

I therefore declare a NULL hypothesis!
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Old May 4th, 2012, 02:11 PM
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Another problem is the assmption that the rate of decay has been constant over the eons...
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Old May 4th, 2012, 02:21 PM
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Has to be, God wouldn't fuck with us that way.
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Old May 4th, 2012, 02:42 PM
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Yes...it just wouldn't jive with the rest of this easy-peasy world we live in if he did that.
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Old May 4th, 2012, 03:36 PM
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As Einstein said, "God does not play dice." Everyone knows he prefers Roulette.
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“I think it’s unfair. We voted for Hillary Clinton, but it is Trump who won. It is unfair,” Heloïse said.
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Old May 4th, 2012, 06:08 PM
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It's all able to be calculated mathematically. I don't know how it's done but I'm a believer having been a student of astronomy/cosmology since http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Gamow wrote "The Birth and Death of the Sun" (rev 1952), my first reading of anauthoritative scholarly scientific work.

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Radioactive decay In the early 20th century, radioactive materials were known to have characteristic exponential decay rates or half lives. At the same time, radiation emissions were known to have certain characteristic energies. By 1928, Gamow had solved the theory of the alpha decay of a nucleus via tunnelling, with mathematical help from Nikolai Kochin. The problem was also solved independently by Ronald W Gurney and Edward U Condon. Gurney and Condon did not, however, achieve the quantitative results achieved by Gamow.

Classically, the particle is confined to the nucleus because of the high energy requirement to escape the very strong nuclear potential well. Also classically, it takes an enormous amount of energy to pull apart the nucleus, an event that would not occur spontaneously. In quantum mechanics, however, there is a probability the particle can "tunnel through" the wall of the potential well, and escape. Gamow solved a model potential for the nucleus and derived from first principles a relationship between the half-life of the alpha-decay event process and the energy of the emission, which had been previously discovered empirically, and was known as the Geiger-Nuttall law. Some years later, the name Gamow factor or Gamow-Sommerfeld Factor was applied to the probability of incoming nuclear particles tunneling through the electrostatic Coulomb barrier and undergoing nuclear reactions.
In 1948 he and two other cosmologists theorized that the radiation released during the "Big Bang" would still be detectable today, and the temperature of that radiation.

In 1964 it was determined that the universe's background radiation was 2.7 degrees above absolute zero, just 2.3 degrees lower than the 1948 prediction by Gamow etal.
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Old May 6th, 2012, 04:53 PM
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AH,
In the mathematical formula, did Gamow account for unforseen energy between two objects (Ie: quantim mechanics/magnetic energy=increased energy) as well as radioactive changes in the atmosphere, global changes (ice age/slows decay and warmer climates which increases decay) and lastly anti-matter?
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Old May 6th, 2012, 05:46 PM
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I have dated Carbon, but she wasn't much fun.
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Old May 8th, 2012, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trlrtrash13 View Post
I have dated Carbon, but she wasn't much fun.
Hagh hagh hagh; how old did she think you were?
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Old May 8th, 2012, 11:48 AM
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BatGirl, I took the liberty to ask your question at a NO BS forum dedicated to astronomy/science; here’s how I phrased it:

Questions About Carbon Dating
How can we determine the half life of C14 is 5,730 (+ or -) years, when we haven't lived to see it? How is it quantifiable evidence without a longitudinal study where we actually observe it decaying and time-line the data?

Another problem is the assumption that the rate of decay has been constant over the eons...

Is there any accounting for unseen energy between two objects as well as radioactive changes in the atmosphere, global changes (ice age/slows decay and warmer climates which increases decay) and lastly anti-matter.

Would any of those have an effect that would alter the decay time substantially enough to be relevant in the process.

Here are the answers we got (with my questions underlined)

Answer #1
Almost everything is subject to unreasonable doubt. We notice that 1% of the C14 decays in so many years, and 2% in so many years and 3% in so many years. We make a graph, drawing a curve between the data points, determine the algabraic formula for that curve and complete the curve out to about one million years. You are thinking correctly, the extrapolation is wrong if the strong force, or the weak force jumped to a slightly different value a few or many centuries ago. We don't think that happened as we have some independent means of dating things and they check reasonably close.

Answer #2
( How can we determine the half life of C14 is 5,730 (+ or -) years, when we haven't lived to see it? How is it quantifiable evidence without a longitudinal study where we actually observe it decaying and time-line the data?)
You don't have to measure decay over the entire half life, just the rate of decay and then extrapolate the half life from that.

(Another problem is the assumption that the rate of decay has been constant over the eons... )
We have never observed anything that changes the rate of decay and our theories don't suggest that external factors will change it.
(Actually, there have been some small, unconfirmed annual variations reported but they don't matter to this.)

Also, radiocarbon dating is correlated against various other methods (e.g. tree rings).

(Is there any accounting for unseen energy between two objects as well as radioactive changes in the atmosphere, global changes (ice age/slows decay and warmer climates which increases decay) and lastly anti-matter.
Would any of those have an effect that would alter the decay time substantially enough to be relevant in the process. )

None of those affect the rate of decay (although changes in the atmospheric mix of carbon isotopes have to be accounted for).

Answer #3
Answer #1 post already gave some answers, but there are other ways where C14 half life can be (and is) verified: tree rings. Each year leaves a telltale imprint of the weather/climatological conditions that year in the size of that year's ring. Those rings can be matched on long dead trees too. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendrochronology. The wiki article on C14 dating also lists some other methods for verification, like coral growth.

Answer #4
(How can we determine the half life of C14 is 5,730 (+ or -) years, when we haven't lived to see it? How is it quantifiable evidence without a longitudinal study where we actually observe it decaying and time-line the data?)
We actually do observe it decaying and time-line the data. "Half-life" is just a convenient term used when discussing the decay rate of radioactive isotopes. C14 is hardly the only radioactive isotope in existence, some have half-lives of seconds, minutes, hours, etc.

Answer #5
(How can we determine the half life of C14 is 5,730 (+ or -) years, when we haven't lived to see it? How is it quantifiable evidence without a longitudinal study where we actually observe it decaying and time-line the data?)
I think it's been explained pretty well already. Going a bit further, we actually have calculations for the half-life of isotopes (128 tellurium) that are much longer (trillions of times) than the age of the universe. I'm not sure how that was calculated, but isotopes don't decay all at the same time (they're not like fruit, for example, which gradually decay), but decay at random. So if you put 1,000 atoms in a box and notice that one decays each day, then you can calculate the half-life from that. A similar process would be, suppose you have 100 dice and you toss them all at once. You notice that about one-sixth show a 1. You can guess that the chance of rolling a 1 is 1/6, even without rolling a single die many times.

Answer #6
A lot of information about radionuclide dating in general - including discussion about that "assumption about constant decay rates":
rationalskepticism.org • Rational Skepticism Forum
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