What is measured in the radiocarbon dating of organic materials
In the following article, some of the most common misunderstandings regarding radiocarbon dating are addressed, and corrective, up-to-date scientific creationist thought is provided where appropriate. Radiocarbon is used to date the age of rocks, which enables scientists to date the age of the earth.
Radiocarbon is not used to date the age of rocks or to determine the age of the earth.
Long tree-ring chronologies are rare (there are only two that I am aware of which are of sufficient length to be of interest to radiocarbon) and difficult to construct.
They have been slowly built up by matching ring patterns between trees of different ages, both living and dead, from a given locality.
It is not difficult to see how such a claim could arise, however.
There are two characteristics of the instrumental measurement of radiocarbon which, if the lay observer is unaware, could easily lead to such an idea.
Of course, the table, so constructed, will only give the correct calibration if the tree-ring chronology which was used to construct it had placed each ring in the true calendar year in which it grew.The shells of live freshwater clams can, and often do, give anomalous radiocarbon results.However, the reason for this is understood and the problem is restricted to only a few special cases, of which freshwater clams are the best-known example.First, any instrument which is built to measure radiocarbon has a limit beyond which it cannot separate the signal due to radiocarbon in the sample from the signal due to background processes within the measuring apparatus.
Even a hypothetical sample containing absolutely no radiocarbon will register counts in a radiocarbon counter because of background signals within the counter.Other radiometric dating methods such as potassium-argon or rubidium-strontium are used for such purposes by those who believe that the earth is billions of years old.