Radiocarbon dating stuff works
It was the first absolute scientific method ever invented: that is to say, the technique was the first to allow a researcher to determine how long ago an organic object died, whether it is in context or not.
Shy of a date stamp on an object, it is still the best and most accurate of dating techniques devised.
Radiocarbon dating is one of the best known archaeological dating techniques available to scientists, and the many people in the general public have at least heard of it.
But there are many misconceptions about how radiocarbon works and how reliable a technique it is.
The good dates are confirmed using at least two different methods, ideally involving multiple independent labs for each method to cross-check results.
Sometimes only one method is possible, reducing the confidence researchers have in the results. “They’re based on ‘it’s that old because I say so,’ a popular approach by some of my older colleagues,” says Shea, laughing, “though I find I like it myself as I get more gray hair.” Kidding aside, dating a find is crucial for understanding its significance and relation to other fossils or artifacts.
Lake Suigetsu's annually formed sediments hold detailed information about environmental changes over the past 50,000 years, which radiocarbon specialist PJ Reimer believes will be as good as, and perhaps better than, samples cores from the Greenland Ice Sheet. report 808 AMS dates based on sediment varves measured by three different radiocarbon laboratories.
Although we don't have any 50,000-year-old trees, we do have overlapping tree ring sets back to 12,594 years.
Reliable estimates are possible, but with large /- factors.
As you might imagine, scientists have been attempting to discover other organic objects that can be dated securely steadily since Libby's discovery.
So, in other words, we have a pretty solid way to calibrate raw radiocarbon dates for the most recent 12,594 years of our planet's past.
But before that, only fragmentary data is available, making it very difficult to definitively date anything older than 13,000 years.