Instruments used in radiocarbon dating


Our Seattle AMS Laboratory features our National Electrostatics Corporation (NEC) 1.5 SDH Compact Pelletron Accelerator Mass Spectrometer.The instrument operates with two NEC MC-SNICS Cesium (Cs) sputter ion sources, with 40-sample and 134-sample capacities, respectively.A beam of C- ions is produced by bombarding the surface of a graphite sample with Cs ions.The C- beam is accelerated, focused, and split into 14, 13, and 12 amu beams.It is confusing when the maximum date for Carbon 14 is listed as 60,000 years and 80,000 years in the same article (Chapter 4 Dating Methods by Roger Patterson and the reference article summary 4.2 by Riddle.) and as 50,000 years in another (The Answers Book) as well as 95,000 years in the Creation College lecture by Dr. This is why there is the disparity in the quoted limits to radiocarbon dating, as highlighted by this inquirer. This is due to the fact that the AMS instrument has to be calibrated, and yet the organic materials used for calibration (that are supposed to be so old they shouldn't have any detectable radiocarbon left in them) all contain so much radiocarbon that it means samples of unknown age can't yield dates above this radiocarbon barrier.The field of radiocarbon dating has become a technical one far removed from the naive simplicity which characterized its initial introduction by Libby in the late 1940's.It is, therefore, not surprising that many misconceptions about what radiocarbon can or cannot do and what it has or has not shown are prevalent among creationists and evolutionists - lay people as well as scientists not directly involved in this field.

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Theoretically, the AMS instrument should obtain ages up to 95,000 years, but practically, 60,000 years or less is the limit.

MYTH #2 Radiocarbon dating has established the date of some organic materials (e.g., some peat deposits) to be well in excess of 50,000 years, thus rendering a recent creation (6 to 10 thousand years ago) impossible.

Some organic materials do give radiocarbon ages in excess of 50,000 "radiocarbon years." However, it is important to distinguish between "radiocarbon years" and calendar years.

The method was developed by Willard Libby in the late 1940s and soon became a standard tool for archaeologists.

Libby received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960.

The other factor is what has become known as the "radiocarbon barrier" at around 55,000–60,000 years.

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