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Mass spectroscopy, like any man-made measurement, is not perfect. Creationists pounce on this explanation as meaning all carbon 14 readings are suspect. While that same level of contamination (if this is the explanation) will add some error to the dating of some reasonably aged sample, the error will be small -- so long as the sample is not too old. By either mechanism, this is essentially internal contamination.

In particular, given a pure sample of C12, I suspect a mass spectrometer would indicate that a non-zero amount of C14 present. All this means is that measured dates older than some oldest reliable date are just that -- to old to date reliably.

We will restore static content as quickly as possible.(Note: I think that 2006 should be 2008.

I know I visited several times in the last two years, last time being about a month or so ago.)What is more alarming is that the Google searches for "carbon 14 RATE", "carbon 14 diamond", and "carbon 14 coal" yield hits predominantly in woowoo fundamentalist sites, and no hits on the first 15 pages (10 links per page) to anything at or, period.

Anyone have any ideas about this apparent anomaly with C14 in coal? supposedly has an article on this very subject (per Google), but I haven't been able to get to talkorigins for some time. The small apparent non-zero values are less than measurement error.

In other words, the readings are consistent with zero C14 content.

I found this on page 10 of Google's "carbon 14 RATE" search: what gives? What happened, from what I recall, is that someone hacked Talk Origins and managed to get the site to display hidden spam links at the bottom of pages, making Google think it was a spam site and thus getting it removed from Google. I'm wonder whether they've extracted samples under an inert atmosphere and then used laser ablation to ionize samples in their mass spectrometers?

I'm probably teaching grandmother to suck eggs, as the old saying goes.

Science has several very reasonable explanations for levels of modern carbon in very old samples. If you don't, such dismissive arguments as 'the extra C14 could be due to uranium decay' leave enough wriggle room (uncertainty) for the creationist to thrive in.

Although this satisfies the scientist, who for all sorts of other reasons quite reasonably assumes that these samples are truly old, it leaves enormous scope for the creationists to reinforce their followers' faith that the earth is young. Several of the test results touted by creationists were definitive experiments to assess those limitations. You're right though, I'm probably being naive in thnking they will be convinced.

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