Scientists at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Laboratory of Columbia University at Palisades, N.
Y., reported today in the British journal Nature that some estimates of age based on carbon analyses were wrong by as much as 3,500 years.
Without understanding the mechanics of it, we put our blind faith in the words of scientists, who assure us that carbon dating is a reliable method of determining the ages of almost everything around us.
It is too soon to know whether the discovery will seriously upset the estimated dates of events like the arrival of human beings in the Western Hemisphere, scientists said.
But it is already clear that the carbon method of dating will have to be recalibrated and corrected in some cases.
Various geologic, atmospheric and solar processes can influence atmospheric carbon-14 levels.
Since the 1960s, scientists have started accounting for the variations by calibrating the clock against the known ages of tree rings.