Science: Mistaken by Millenniums

Geologists show that carbon dating can be way off

Ever since its development in the 1940s, radiocarbon dating has been a vital tool for historians and paleontologists trying to pinpoint the ages of everything from ancient animal bones to prehistoric human settlements to Egyptian mummies. By measuring the decay of the natural radioactive isotope carbon 14, which almost all organisms ingest while they are alive, scientists can estimate how long it has been since an animal or plant died.

But those estimates, while valuable, are also known to be somewhat uncertain. Last week geologists at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Laboratory in - Palisades, N.Y., offered firm evidence of just how uncertain....

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