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Consider this—if a specimen is older than 50,000 years, it has been calculated, it would have such a small amount of C that for practical purposes it would show an ‘infinite’ radiocarbon age. Readers are referred to this article for other interesting conclusions about these dates.
So it was expected that most deposits such as coal, gas, petrified trees, etc. In fact, of 15,000 dates in the journal to 1968, only three were classed ‘un-dateable’—most were of the sort which should have been in this category. [Editor’s note: The graph below was reproduced from a sketch in the original magazine.
Obviously this only works for things which once contained carbon—it can’t be used to date rocks and minerals, for example. We obviously need to know this to be able to work out at what point the ‘clock’ began to tick.We’ve seen that it would have been the same as in the atmosphere at the time the specimen died. Do scientists assume that it was the same as it is now? It is well known that the industrial revolution, with its burning of huge masses of coal, etc.