Thursday, March 6, 2014

Discovery News on radiometric dating

I added two videos from Discovery News to my lecture on geologic time yesterday on the topic of radiometric dating, which is a subject that I felt needed a little more explanation.  I felt they helped because they explain both the youngest and oldest part of the geologic time scale and reinforce each other while answering different questions, one about how radiometric dating works and the other about the age of the Earth.  Since this month's theme is Self, I decided to share them with my readers to see what they (you) think.

First, Creation v. Evolution: How Carbon Dating Works.

Recently Bill Nye and Ken Ham had a debate regarding the validity of evolution and creationism. This debate mixed with the recent discovery of the earliest known human footprints outside Africa is leading a big question to arise: How does carbon dating work? Well, Trace did some digging and is here to tell you all about carbon dating and other ways we can know the age of an object or fossil.
I have been describing this process for a decade and a half, but I'm glad I can show my students instead of just telling them.

Next, How Scientists Found The Oldest Rock On Earth.

Scientists recently found the oldest thing on Earth, a zircon crystal, and it dates back to 4.4 billion years ago! Carbon dating is a helpful tool in order to date old things, but it's limited. Trace is joined by Elise Andrew from I F***king Love Science to talk about how exactly scientists were able to find the oldest thing on earth.
While I gained something from these videos, I also lost something.  They ended up replacing the TED Talk "Building a dinosaur from a chicken" that I have embedded in Weekly roundup and sustainability news from national commercial sources for the week ending June 11, 2011, which was fun, but didn't bear directly on geology.  I will still show it to my environmental science students when I finish my evolution lecture.  It's still quite on topic for that class.


  1. Since Narb spends much of his free time attempting to sully the established parameters of the Neolithic Period by creating backyard cromlechs and erecting standing stones in rural Kansas, he feels that radiometric dating is a tool to be feared. Some things are best left unexamined, and some stones should be left unturned.

    Narb will stick with conventional dating, like drive-ins and dinner for two. Radiometric dating is far too progressive and has a very real possibility of increasing the chance of rejection. Narb couldn't handle that.

    1. *snork* I it's been too long since you've left a comment here, Narb. I missed you.

      Speaking of conventional dating, wish your wife a happy birthday for me. Also, I think your birthday is this month, too. Happy birthday!