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Are there problems with carbon dating

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Their recent analysis of sediment from the largest freshwater lake in northeast China showed that its carbon clock stopped ticking as early as 30, years ago, or nearly half as long as was hitherto thought. For instance, remnants of organic matter formerly held up as solid evidence of the most recent, large-scale global warming event some 40, years ago may actually date back far earlier to a previous ice age.

Their work was detailed in a paper in the latest issue of the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. For over 50 years, scientists and researchers have relied on carbon dating to find the exact age of organic matter. Prior to that, they had to depend on more rudimentary and imprecise methods, such as counting the number of rings on a cross-section of tree trunk. This all changed in the s when US chemist Willard Libby discovered that carbon, a radioactive isotope, could be used to date organic compounds.

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