Re: carbon dating

Paul Ciszek (
8 Dec 1996 22:14:26 -0700

Mike Rusch <> writes:

>I must admit I know very little about science, but I figured if I had a
>science related question, this would be the place to post it.
>Where can I find information about carbon dating--especially as related
>to the age of the earth or of life? In particular how do we find the
>ages of dinosaurs or other animals that became extinct before the
>existence of man or the first records were kept?

Carbon dating is a "yardstick" that is too long for conveniently measuring
historical times (centuries) and too short for measuring geological time
periods (millions of years). It works best for time periods of interest
to archeologists and anthropologists, i.e. thousands of years.
For dating things like dinosaur fossils, other radioactive substances are
used. The oldest rocks currently on earth have been dated by using uranium
and lead isotopes as a guide, and the age of the earth is trickier, since
nothing sits around on the surface undamaged for that long. Supposedly
the rocks brought back from the moon by the Apollo program provided important
clues about the formation of the solar system, including the earth. I'll
see if I can find a good book to refer you to; I had to take geology as
a college freshman and whatever textbook we used was fairly readable.