Deranged Dating: The Slanted Science

If you suspect that radiocarbon dating is really just one huge homogenised hodgepodge then it’s worth spending a few minutes getting acquainted with your academic adversary.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

The Art of War – Sun Tzu
Translated by Lionel Giles – 1910

An essential step in this familiarisation process is appreciating what happens when numerous individual radiocarbon measurements are massaged, manipulated and mutilated by the radiocarbon calibration process to form a radiocarbon chronology.

Radiocarbon dating measurements produce ages in “radiocarbon years”, which must be converted to calendar ages by a process called calibration.

Calibration is needed because the atmospheric 14C/12C ratio, which is a key element in calculating radiocarbon ages, has not been constant historically.

Although Willard Libby, the inventor of radiocarbon dating, had pointed out as early as 1955 the possibility that the 14C/12C ratio might have varied over time, it was not until discrepancies began to accumulate between measured ages and known historical dates for artefacts that it became clear that a correction would need to be applied to radiocarbon ages to obtain calendar dates.

Radiocarbon years ago may be abbreviated 14Cya (years ago).

A general term used reflecting evidence from any method is Before Present (BP).

Before Present (BP) years is a time scale used mainly in geology and other scientific disciplines to specify when events occurred in the past. Because the “present” time changes, standard practice is to use 1 January 1950 as commencement date of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon dating became practical in the 1950s.

Chronology is the science of arranging events in their order of occurrence in time.

The mainstream usually avoids providing a high-level overview of this transformation process for reasons that will become increasingly obvious during the next few postings.

The “high-precision” Irish Oaks Chronology published way back in 1993 provides a wonderfully detailed series of radiocarbon measurements before they are massaged, manipulated and mutilated by the radiocarbon calibration process.

High-Precision 14C Measurement of Irish Oaks to Show the Natural 14C Variations
Gordon W. Pearson and Florence Qua – Radiocarbon, Volume 35, No. 1, 1993

Comparing the raw radiocarbon measurements [labelled “14C Age BP”] with the calibrated dates [labelled “Calibrated Date”] in the Irish Oaks Chronology clearly demonstrates the overall impact of the radiocarbon calibration process that:

Slants the calibrated dates towards the past.

►►This extends the chronology by a 1,000 years into the past [in round numbers].

►►This straightens out many of the curved raw data artefacts.

►►This also helps smooth over [aka mask] the very real gaps in the raw data.

The development of the radiocarbon calibration process has been a long and arduous task that has involved many individuals [over many decades] and, for example, the Irish Oaks Chronology documents the consensus calibration curve at the time it was published.

One of the more curious aspects of the radiocarbon calibration process is that many [but not all] of the raw radiocarbon measurements in the 1st millennium AD are significantly pushed forward in time.

This pushed forward data is particularly pronounced around the Heinsohn Horizon in 914 CE and [especially] the Arabian Horizon in 637 CE where the radiocarbon calibration process adjusts dates by as much as plus 176 years.

The net effect is that the raw data is smeared over the Heinsohn Horizon and the Arabian Horizon by the radiocarbon calibration process.


Moving back in time it becomes apparent that the slanted science of the radiocarbon calibration process begins to push back in the 1st millennium BC and rapidly accelerates to breath-taking levels that exceed minus 250 years.

The combination of the pushed forward data during the 1st millennium AD and the data push back in the 1st millennium BC creates a conspicuous Pivot Point in the Irish Oaks Chronology at 470 BC.

In many ways this 470 BC Pivot Point is the defining feature of the Irish Oaks Chronology and the consensus calibration curve that controls the radiocarbon calibration process.

Unsurprisingly, the IntCal13 Northern Hemisphere Atmospheric Radiocarbon Calibration Curve published in 2013 contains a remarkably similar Pivot Point at about 465 BC.

IntCal13 Supplemental Data – Radiocarbon – Volume 55 – Nr 4 – 2013

IntCal13 Northern Hemisphere Atmospheric Radiocarbon Calibration Curve

The real significance of this Pivot Point in the 1st millennium BC will become apparent in a later post…

Gallery | This entry was posted in Arabian Horizon, Atmospheric Science, Cosmic Rays, Dendrochronology, Deranged Dating, Gunnar Heinsohn, History, Radiocarbon Dating, The Old Japanese Cedar Tree. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Deranged Dating: The Slanted Science

  1. thx1138 says:

    Radioactive Decay

    “The nuclei of elements exhibiting radioactivity are unstable and are found to be undergoing continuous disintegration (i.e., gradual breakdown). The disintegration proceeds at a definite rate characteristic of the particular nucleus; that is, each radioactive isotope has a definite lifetime. However, the time of decay of an individual nucleus is unpredictable. The lifetime of a radioactive substance is not affected in any way by any physical or chemical conditions to which the substance may be subjected.”

    Brown’s Gas has been developed by a Bulgarian-born Australian national, Prof. Yull Brown. In his process, water is separated into its two constituents, hydrogen and oxygen in a way that allows them to be mixed under pressure and burn simultaneously and safely in a 2:1 proportion.

    The proprietary process results in a gas containing ionic hydrogen and oxygen in proper mixes which is generated economically and safely and which may be compressed up to 100 psi. (note: The ionic nature of the constituents of Brown’s gas make it a plasma, not a gas.)

    Using a slice of radioactive Americium … Brown melted it together on a brick with small chunks of steel and Aluminum … After a couple of minutes under the flame, the molten metals sent up an instant flash in what Brown says is the reaction that destroys the radioactivity. Before the heating and mixing with the other metals, the Americium, made by the decay of an isotope of Plutonium, registered 16,000 curies per minute of radiation.  Measured afterward by the [Geiger Counter], the mass of metals read less than 100 curies per minute, about the same as the background radiation in the laboratory where Brown was working.

    This experiment indicated a reduction of radiation in the order of over 99% (to about 0.00625 of original level) — in less than 5 minutes, with minimal handling.  The improvement in the de-radioactivation process from about 50% to nearly 100% has come only with persistent research over the decades by Brown and his colleagues.

    On August 6, 1992, almost a year after the Chinese nuclear report, Prof. Yull Brown made a special demonstration to a team of 5 San Francisco field office observers from the United States Department of Energy, at the request of the Hon. Berkeley Bedell.  Cobalt 60 was treated and resulted in a drop of Geiger readings from 1,000 counts to 40 — resulting in radioactive waste residue of about 0.04 of the original level.  Apprehensive that somehow the radioactivity might have been dispersed into the ambient environment, the official requested the California Department of Health Services to inspect the premises. The health services crew found no radioactivity in the air resulting from this demonstration nor from another repeat demonstration held for their benefit.

    Chemistry does indeed affect radioactive decay rate.

    In the recent paper, geochemist Chih-An Huh reported that the decay rate of 7Be depends on its chemical form.4 The measurements were done at the unprecedented high precision of ±0.01%, some ten times better than any reported previously. An extremely sensitive and stable spectrometer was used to monitor gamma rays from the decay of 7Be. Three different chemical forms of 7Be were measured, the hydrated Be2+ ion in solution surrounded by four water molecules ([Be(H2O)4]2+), the hydroxide (Be(OH)2), and the oxide (BeO). The measured half lives were 53.69 days, 53.42 days and 54.23 days respectively—a 1.5% variation from the shortest to the longest. The variation is much greater than previously considered.

  2. Pingback: Deranged Dating: Double Vision | MalagaBay

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