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But 5500 years is a short amount of time compared to the hundreds of millions of years we are told to believe are the ages of some of the fossil and rocks around us.The carbon-14 content in a 2000 ton sample would dissipate down to 1.3 tons in 56,100 years.Often times, scientists will assume the sample of their testing had to be 100% parent element at the time of its origin, with no daughter element present. Scientists also assume the decay rate will be constant or consistent throughout time.But changes in the atmosphere can greatly affect the rate of decay.The period of time that it takes for half of a sample to decay is called a "half-life." Radiocarbon oxidizes (that is, it combines with oxygen) and enters the biosphere through natural processes like breathing and eating.
The first is that each system is a closed system which cannot be contaminated during the process. Other nearby elements which have radiation can also affect the rocks that are being tested.But the Van Allen radiation belt emits 3000 to 4000 times that amount.Having only been discovered in 1959, it is impossible to determine how much this has affected the radioactivity on the earth throughout the duration of the earth’s existence. Scientists admit, the limits of usefulness of the radiocarbon age determinations using carbon-14 are not yet known or understood.Rocks being tested could have been contaminated by other sources of carbon.
The amount of carbon in a rock tested today would be tainted because of the amount of carbon from the burning of coal and oil over the past 100 years.
So, scientists can estimate the age of the fossil by looking at the level of decay in its radioactive carbon.