Method of carbon dating
The other major factor affecting the results of carbon dating is gauging the original proportion of carbon-14 itself.Carbon dating is based on the loss of carbon-14, so, even if the present amount in a specimen can be detected accurately, we must still know how much carbon-14 the organism started with.Tiny variations within a particular sample become significant enough to skew results to the point of absurdity.Carbon dating therefore relies on enrichment and enhancement techniques to make smaller quantities easier to detect, but such enhancement can also skew the test results. As a result, carbon dating is only plausible for objects less than about 40,000 years old.Carbon dating is reliable within certain parameters but certainly not infallible.When testing an object using radiocarbon dating, several factors have to be considered: First, carbon dating only works on matter that was once alive, and it only determines the approximate date of death for that sample.Even then, a large proportion of radiocarbon dating tests return inconsistent, or even incoherent, results, even for tests done on the same sample.
This is perhaps the greatest point of potential error, as assumptions about dating can lead to circular reasoning, or choosing confirming results, rather than accepting a “wrong” date.Likewise, different living things absorb or reject carbon-14 at different rates.Two plants that died at the same moment, but which naturally contained different levels of radiocarbon, could be dated to drastically different times.Question: "Is carbon dating a reliable method for determining the age of things?" Answer: Carbon dating, or radiocarbon dating, like any other laboratory testing technique, can be extremely reliable, so long as all of the variables involved are controlled and understood.Contamination and repeatability are also factors that have to be considered with carbon dating.