If They Had Only Waited Until 2020 Or So

Shucks. Why did they have to do it in 1988.  If they had only waited a few more years then we wouldn’t be having all these problem trying to prove the shroud is real.

imageFirst things first. What is the story here?  The Shroud of Turin?

This is how Sarah Kaplan writing in the prestigious Washington Post retold the story Fossil fuel emissions are making carbon dating more difficult. These are the very first four paragraphs accompanied by a photograph of the shroud:

Nearly three decades ago scientists were granted access to one of the world’s most mystifying and sacred objects: the Shroud of Turin. The ancient rectangle of linen, with its strange stains in the shape of a tortured body, had long been venerated as the burial garment of Christ. But the shroud’s origins were murky, and researchers had spent decades poring over the piece of fabric debating whether the story of its background could be true.

In 1988, thanks to a technique called radiocarbon dating, they had an answer: The shroud dated back to sometime between 1260 and 1390 — old, but not old enough to have been buried with Jesus.

“The Carbon-14 Bombshell,” National Geographic called the news, referring to the radioactive isotope that’s used for the dating process.

Carbon dating had never been, and likely never again will be, quite so glamorous — or so controversial. And, thanks to atmospheric changes caused by the burning of fossil fuels, it could become even more complicated.

Down some:

Graven expects that the change will start impacting the carbon dating process by 2020.


This shift won’t render carbon dating obsolete — it’s long been known that atmospheric carbon can fluctuate, and scientists are able to re-calibrate their estimates based on modern levels. But it does make the process more complex and less reliable for dating relatively young objects. If emissions continue at their current rates, Graven believes that carbon dating won’t be able to provide a definitive age for anything less than 2,000 years old

Shucks. Why did they have to do it in 1988.  If they had only waited a few more years then we wouldn’t be having all these problem trying to prove the shroud is real.

4 thoughts on “If They Had Only Waited Until 2020 Or So”

  1. “Amino acid racemization.” That’s a new one on me! Anyone know its limits?

    1. Biomolecules with asymmetric centres generally come in left-handed or right-handed forms, Hugh, rather like gloves. Racemization is the entropy-driven process that scrambles the two forms, producing finally (be prepared to wait a long time – say centuries) a 50/50 mixture of the two. Theoretically one might exploit the rate of racemization to make a chemical clock. At least it’s guaranteed to be right twice every 24 hours. Anything else is a bonus.

      When can we expect BSTS newsletter 81? Come on now, the chalk face is not 24/7/365. ;-)

  2. I totally disagree with the article especially the angle it is pointed to. All of the research to date has been pointing to one thing and that is that the Shroud is the cloth that our Lord Jesus Christ was ‘wrapped’ in grave in. The big question that science has, in my opinion, is how did God do it ?? Science wants to learn the in’s and out’s of the procedure so that they can become as gods. That is even covered in the Scriptures. The research pointed to the middle age repair work and the fact that the Carbon 14 dating was done on a repaired portion of the cloth. My main concern is the number of people who do not accept the ‘99%’ that proves what the Shroud is but are die-hards in accepting the ‘1%’ of the what the Shroud isn’t. It seems to me that the Shroud points to the fact that Jesus Christ arose from the dead and that fact is just too hard for people to accept. There is a date and time for every living human on the Earth to face the facts.

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