However, human beings love to see factual precision, and we want to know how old something is.
Please remember that all dating methods, even those termed "absolute," are subject to margins of error. That is a very small amount of possible error range. Modern studies almost always use two or more methods to confirm dating work and to build confidence in the results obtained.
) is only 5,730 years—that is, every 5,730 years, half of it decays away.
After two half lives, a quarter is left; after three half lives, only an eighth; after 10 half lives, less than a thousandth is left.
The next image (below left) is of charred fossil wood; and beside that is intact fossil wood (Note biro gives size perspective).
The bottom two images are of basalt with holes from former gas bubbles (left) and visible fossil tree roots in siltstone.
Those on-site at the time speculated that there had been two distinct trees, partly standing, still organic in nature, and thus not petrified.
Diamond requires very high pressure to form—pressure found naturally on earth only deep below the surface.
C at all if they really were over a billion years old, yet the radiocarbon lab reported that there was over 10 times the detection limit.
Thus they had a radiocarbon ‘age’ far less than a million years!
magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this.
For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below. At top, is fossil wood in basalt that includes—from left to right—basalt, wood and siltstone.