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Of the conventional dating methods there are three types; Solid Carbon Counting, Gas Counting, and Liquid Scintillation Counting. The limit for conventional carbon dating is 10 half-lives (57,300 years) (Warf, 213) or within 40,000 to 60,000 years (Taylor, 3).After that, background radiation and cosmic rays overwhelm the miniscule amount of C14 left.These cosmic rays release free neutrons which zip around our nitrogen rich atmosphere at high velocities.The neutrons eventually slow down and bond with the nucleus of the nitrogen changing the atomic weight to that of an unstable carbon atom, Carbon 14 (or C14) (Warf, 212 & Taylor, 6).
AMS, developed in the 1980s, which overcomes many of the shortfalls of conventional carbon dating, directly measures C14 atoms relative to C12 and C13 atoms (Bowman, 31). Assumptions As straightforward as radiocarbon seems to be there are actually a large number of underlying assumptions that the entire dating process relies on. Andrew Snelling of the Institute of Creation Research writes, “There can be no doubt that this constitutes a very ingenious dating tool, provided of course that the inherent assumptions are valid,” (Snelling, 856).In researching the pivotal assumptions that the methodology relies on I have found quite a range to consider: Sheridan Bowman of the Department of Scientific Research at the British Museum lists the assumptions as follows: -The atmosphere has had the same amount of C14, (in terms of production, mixing and transfer rates) in the past as it is now. Snelling lists the following assumptions: -Cosmic ray influence on the atmosphere is constant. -Carbon dioxide levels in the sea and ocean are constant.-The biosphere has had the same overall concentration of C14. Taylor, professor of anthropology at University of California Los Angeles and University of California Riverside lists the following assumptions: -The concentration of C14 has been constant over the C14 timescale. -C14 concentration in the carbon dioxide cycle is constant. -C14 decay formation and decay rates are in equilibrium (Snelling, 856).Eventually the extra neutron it picked up in the upper atmosphere will break off releasing a high energy beta particle.This beta release allows the atom to turn back into Nitrogen. This radioactivity occurs at a measurable rate with a half-life of 5,730 years (Warf, 212).