Radiocarbon dating inaccurate

Furthermore, the ratio is known to fluctuate significantly over relatively short periods of time (e.g. Unfortunately the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 has yet to reach a state of equilibrium in our atmosphere; there is more carbon-14 in the air today than there was thousands of years ago.By measuring the ratio of the radio isotope to non-radioactive carbon, the amount of carbon-14 decay can be worked out, thereby giving an age for the specimen in question.

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Organisms capture a certain amount of carbon-14 from the atmosphere when they are alive.Unfortunately, we aren't able to reliably date artifacts beyond several thousand years.Scientists have tried to extend confidence in the carbon dating method further back in time by calibrating the method using tree ring dating.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.