To: All Jan0394 10:49AM Subject: Re: Tree Rings, Ice Cores, and 14C (was: Re: Age of the E

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From: To: All Jan-03-94 10:49AM Subject: Re: Tree Rings, Ice Cores, and 14C (was: Re: Age of the Earth) Organization: University of California, Davis From: () Message-ID: Newsgroups: :*The wackiest Creationist claim I have ever heard dealt with 14C dating. I :once had a Creationist tell me (with a straight face) that lightning strikes :can cause false 14C dates. Putting aside the ludicrous nature of this claim :in a practical sense (everything that has been 14C dated to be more than :6,000 years old or so would have to have been hit by lightning) can anyone :provide a mechanism where lightning strikes could actually cause an object :to date older than it was? Has anyone else ever heard this claim? There is a paper written by John Lynde Anderson (J.Chem.Phys, Vol 76, #24, 1972) where it is reported that the decay rate of carbon 14 monolayers were changed when placed in an electrical field. The most famous quote from this paper reads, "The mean during the 90V+ conditions is therefore more than nine standard deviations lower than was observed at 90V-." It is a fact that Anderson observed the decay rate of carbon 14 to change when voltages were applied across a carbon 14 monolayer. This is not in dispute. What IS in dispute is the meaning of the nine standard deviations. Anderson ran three tests. He measured the rate of decay of a monolayer of 14C with 90V+, 90V-, and then back to 90V+. The decay rates for each trial were given as averages of 580 (or so) individual measurements. In the end he had the following set of data. 90V+ = 1713 decays 90V- = 1728 decays 90V+ = 1707 decays Anderson then analyzed these data and found that the standard deviation for the 90V- data was 1.73 (sigma = sqrt(1728/580 = 1.73)). This since the difference between the 90V+ and 90V- data was 15 decays (1728-1713 = 15), it would take about 9 standard deviations to move from 1728 to 1713 (9 x 1.73 = 15). Thus he makes his oft quoted remark above. What does this mean? Actually very little. Anderson saw the effect reverse itself when the voltage was changed and the decay rate returned to normal after the voltage was removed. The error involved turns out to be small, even though the standard deviation difference is large. The rate of decay changed by a small percent (less than a percent) overall which introduces a small error in dating. And remember that the effect only persists as long as the voltage is applied. Lightning flashes could not significantly change the overall decay rate of 14C, although it could change it for a brief second. Steve P.S. - The claim is not "wacky." The data and evidence are real, it just can't be used to justify errors in carbon dating.


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