Dr. Hovind (R5): The C-14 cannot be accurately measured. It makes up less than one part per million in the atmosphere, and claiming to be able to measure accurately to 7 decimal places is not reasonable.

This is similar to an argument put out by Harold Slusher (1981, p.45). Dr. Hovind adds the bizarre claim that something can't be measured accurately to seven decimal places. This nonsense is answered by Dr. Dalrymple, an expert in radiometric dating, who concluded that: "Modern counting instruments, available for more than two decades, are capable of counting the C-14 activity in a sample as old as 35,000 years in an ordinary laboratory, and as old as 50,000 years in laboratories constructed with special shielding against cosmic radiation. New techniques using accelerators and highly sensitive mass spectrometers, now in the experimental stage, have pushed these limits back to 70,000 or 80,000 years..." (Dalrymple, 1984, pp.8687).

We can also explore this issue from first principles.

Given that the halflife of carbon-14 is 5730 years, one can calculate that 4 billion C-14 atoms will produce 1 decay per minute on the average. Converting the 4 billion atoms to grams (a nickel weighs 5 grams), we get 0.000000000000093 grams of carbon-14. Consequently, by tallying one click per minute on the Geiger counter, we can measure a whole lot further than 7 decimal places!

A 1gram, fresh sample of carbon, containing the atmospheric concentration of one tenbillionth percent of carbon-14, will yield about 12 decays per minute. That figure follows directly from the mathematics and, as the atmospheric portion of carbon-14 given above is an approximation, is close enough to Dr. Hovind's presentday figure of 16 counts per minute per gram. Because of atomic bomb tests, the rate is slightly higher today, but the present rate would not apply to animals and plants which died before such tests. One book used a figure of about 13.5 decays per minute per gram for the pre-bomb rate. Consequently, a 64gram sample of fresh carbon will still give about 7 clicks per minute after 40,000 years. Because of background radiation, that's about as far as one can normally go with this counting method. As noted above, Dr. Dalrymple would extend that to 50,000 years in special laboratories.

Once again, Dr. Hovind has relied on bad data. If you get your information from a creationist source, you'd better triplecheck it! Errors get handed down in the creationist literature like the family jewels!

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