back to article Ancient radioactive tree rings could rip up the history books

An archaeologist and an astrophysicist have discovered a new method of timekeeping that could reset key historic dates by inspecting ancient radioactive tree rings. Researchers from the University of Oxford, Michael Dee and Benjamin Pope, published their results today in Proceedings of the Royal Society A. “The discovery of …

  1. Efros

    Hmm

    Radiodendrochronology, that'd be a bugger in Scrabble, if it would fit on the board that is.

    1. asdf

      Re: Hmm

      After being forced to play Scrabble by the significant other occasionally all I thought is even as shitty as I am at the game I wouldn't leave that many letters to build off open on the board lol.

    2. Faux Science Slayer

      "Amazing! New! Wrongco Proxy Crock!" at CanadaFreePress

      Carbon-14 comes from ionized Nitrogen-14 and is not constant. Terrestrially plants and animals have some dating value, but ocean photosynthesis has a naturally lower C-14 ratio, giving average 400 year error. Fresh killed penguins C-14 date as 3000 years old because Antarctica food chain is Earth based Carbon and not solar ionized isotope. The CFP article explains.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: "Amazing! New! Wrongco Proxy Crock!" at CanadaFreePress

        Carbon-14 comes from ionized Nitrogen-14

        No it does not.

        C14 decays into N14 not the other way around.

        1. cray74

          Re: "Amazing! New! Wrongco Proxy Crock!" at CanadaFreePress

          C14 decays into N14 not the other way around.

          "Ionization" is not the correct term, but carbon-14 is produced when cosmic rays pimp slap a nitrogen-14 atom. Eventually, yes, the carbon-14 atom decays back to nitrogen-14.

          Also, yes, carbon-14 production is unsteady. Groups who use radiocarbon dating adjust for that. Linking tree rings to carbon-14 surges and deficits would be a powerful tool for better calibrating radiocarbon dating.

      2. fishman

        Re: "Amazing! New! Wrongco Proxy Crock!" at CanadaFreePress

        What did ancient crackpots use before tin foil was invented?

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: "Amazing! New! Wrongco Proxy Crock!" at CanadaFreePress

          What did ancient crackpots use before tin foil was invented?

          They found that adding more lead to their water calmed their fears. Eventually.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Windows

            Re: "Amazing! New! Wrongco Proxy Crock!" at CanadaFreePress

            Or to their wine!..

    3. Toltec

      Re: Hmm

      Radio would be easy enough the 'log' could be expanded to 'chronology', then you just need to stick 'dendro' in the middle.

      Shame the board is only 15 characters wide, still, it has to be worth trying to get dendrochronology in. Could be an infinite monkey exercise though.

  2. Herby

    Them is...

    Pretty old trees to go back that far. Maybe they look at the 2x4's that the houses were built with.

    Yes, I know there are 2000 year old trees (even one in California!), but there aren't too many THAT old!

    1. Efros

      Re: Them is...

      Bristlecone pines with ages in excess of 4000 years have been found in CA, the oldest is call Methuselah and is aged at 4765. There is a spruce in Sweden called Old Tjikko has been aged at more than 9500 years old, but this is due to natural cloning.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Them is...

        Some of the trees are aged via rings alone, but have damage to the bark. Thus they could have been putting out two or more rings per year during certain changes in weather. So they could be as much as half the age estimated.

        The sad thing is, most of these techniques are estimations, and when used to overrule historic records (written history), it's rather saddening.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Them is...

          I googled this and got a decent overview of the issue.

          FTA:

          "Most tree species are reliable; oak is the most reliable tree type for tree rings - with not a single known case of a missing annual growth ring. Alder and pine are notorious for occasionally “missing a year” which is confusing enough without the fact that those species also sometimes “double up”, by having two rings in the same growth season (8). Birch and willow are not used at all because of the erratic nature of their growth cycle."

          So I guess the Dendrochronologists are on top of it.

        2. Tom 7

          Re: Them is... it's rather saddening.

          And then Bayesian analysis makes it all quite happy again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Them is...

      They only need one tree to go back X years. Then they need another tree that was used cut down and used for lumber or a round table or something a long time ago to match known spikes in the 'current' tree that goes back further with new spikes, then an even older one, and so on.

      Theoretically if there enough Miyake spikes that could be distinguished we could go back to the dawn of civilization. Then if we found a 20,000 year old dugout canoe sunk in the mud of a big lake we might able to tell the exact year the tree it was made from was cut down!

    3. Vulch

      Re: Them is...

      Indeed. You don't need 2000 year old trees, you can work out the progression with an over-lapping sequence of 200 year old trees from the same region and comparing the growth rings in the overlap.

      1. Fungus Bob
        Boffin

        Re: You don't need 2000 year old trees

        Eventually you do need old trees. Your overlapping sequence of 200 year old trees is not terribly useful unless at least one of them was alive in the year 775.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Old, old, old

      Timbers in old buildings take you way back.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Does it really matter ?

    Since according to some people the earth is only 6000 years old anyway !

    1. WolfFan

      Re: Does it really matter ?

      1 find a few

      2 establish dates younger than 6000 years using this method

      3 get them to agree that the method works

      4 establish dates older than 6000 years using this method

      5 watch their heads explode

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Mushroom

        Re: Does it really matter ?

        The funny thing is that people who honestly do believe in a 6000 year old earth are obviously not going to pay any attention to YOU. So imagine heads exploding all you want, but that's the only place it will happen, in your head.

        ;-/

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does it really matter ?

        Doesn't work - anything older than 6000 years was Created In A Mysterious Way.

      3. Sandtitz Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Does it really matter ?

        "5 watch their heads explode"

        No, see them explode into an argument how the omnipotent God has *planted* the evidence.

        Conversion to atheism is a long gradual process where you need to plant ideas that don't support their beliefs. People just don't lose their religion on the spot.

        I think a better way (than this carbon dating) to challenge the "6000 year" belief is to ask whether the person first accepts the scientific facts that light travels at a near constant speed in space, and that the universe has stars and galaxies that are further than 6000 light-years away. If the universe was only 6000 years old then we could possible not observe any star beyond the 6000 ly radius, right?

        I'm sure the entrenched mindsets can explain all this with the "omnipotent god playing tricks", but since the light speed is common knowledge this will be one of the easiest ways to plant these conflicting ideas.

        1. albaleo

          Re: Does it really matter ?

          "No, see them explode into an argument how the omnipotent God has *planted* the evidence."

          While I'm sure they will do as you say, it's an odd argument. If God has "planted the evidence", that would suggest he/she wants us to believe the earth is older than 6,000 years. In which case, us rationalists are truly following God's will. Those young earth people may know the truth, but they could be in for a hard time later by defying God's will.

          I'm not sure why I wrote this.

          1. Fungus Bob
            Pint

            Re: Does it really matter ?

            "I'm not sure why I wrote this."

            Neither are the rest of us. Which can only mean that it's time for lots of this -->

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Does it really matter ?

            "I'm not sure why I wrote this."

            You were guided by the hand of God. All of the best tracts are. Apparently.

        2. JeffyPoooh
          Pint

          "...God has *planted* the evidence."

          That 'logic' can be extended to the belief system called 'Last Thursdayism'.

          Everything was created last Thursday, including the planted evidence that seems to indicate any earlier dates. Including your supposed memories.

          It's always Last Thursday.

          I didn't just make this up. It's a long-established philosophical rebuttal going back, oh, nearly a week now.

          1. Mephistro
            Pint

            Re: "...God has *planted* the evidence."

            Terry Pratchett included a similar theory in several of his books.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "...God has *planted* the evidence."

              Just like Douglas Adams before him , when the planet builders layered the geologic layers with dinosaur bones and the like....

              1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                Re: "...God has *planted* the evidence."

                I don't recall Douglas Adams's planet builders (of Magrathea) putting in fake fossils. Fjords, yes. And "glaciers poised to roll over Africa" IIRC on the new model of Earth, so they did use some traditional methods.

                Terry Pratchett's planet makers did planted dinosaur bones in his early novel "Strata", and then there's an indication in the story - this may be a spoiler - that God uses a similar method in Her work.

                1. cray74

                  Re: "...God has *planted* the evidence."

                  I don't recall Douglas Adams's planet builders (of Magrathea) putting in fake fossils.

                  I do. Planting bones was part of prepping Earth 2.0, along with carving those convincing African fjords.

                  1. cray74

                    Re: "...God has *planted* the evidence."

                    I don't recall Douglas Adams's planet builders (of Magrathea) putting in fake fossils.

                    I remembered that in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but not that I had the Guide on my phone. Now that the latter amnesiac moment has passed...

                    Slartibartfast: "That is, unless you would care to take a quick stroll on the surface of New Earth. It's only half completed, I'm afraid - we haven't even finished burying the artificial dinosaur skeletons in the crust yet, then we have the Tertiary and Quaternary Periods of the Cenozoic Era to lay down, and..."

                    "No, thank you," said Arthur, "It wouldn't be quite the same."

            2. Efros

              Re: "...God has *planted* the evidence."

              Quote "Terry Pratchett included a similar theory in several of his books."

              "the dinosaur was holding a placard with “Ban the Bomb” written on it" From Strata.

              1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                "the dinosaur was holding a placard with “Ban the Bomb” written on it"

                Sacking offence. Or final warning. (Appropriate I suppose.)

                By the way I'm also sceptical of those toy shop kits where you get your choice of dinosaur to excavate, in a box... I'm saying how do they know?? ;-)

          2. John Mangan

            Re: "...God has *planted* the evidence."

            @JeffyPoooh

            I have made this exact point to a couple of young earth believers that once you allow a created moment with back-filled evidence then that moment can be just about anytime.

            I may not in fact have read your post or even typed the start of this sentence . . . .

        3. Lars Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Does it really matter ?

          @ Sandtitz

          I am afraid you are a bit of an optimist referring to "common knowledge". As you know we don't know why the tide comes in and goes out. Like here:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb3AFMe2OQY

          I am a lot more concerned with people who believe in guys like Trump and similar.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Does it really matter ?

            > "I am a lot more concerned with people who believe in guys like Trump and similar."

            Who says we believe in him? We just can't stomach a corrupt, lying crime-boss family like the Clintons getting another chance to ream us a new one. With that option retchingly close now, even the loudmouth Trump seems pretty harmless by comparison.

        4. Martin Maloney
          Pirate

          Re: Does it really matter ?

          "...the universe has stars and galaxies that are further (sic) than 6000 light-years away..."

          The person, religious or not, might refer you to the work of Chip Arp and others, who dispute that red-shift is a Doppler manifestation.

          In short, they contend that the Big Bang/Expanding Universe paradigm is faulty.

          Do the research -- even read a book or two.

          1. John Mangan

            Re: Does it really matter ?

            @Martin Moloney: they do but without any scientific justification (that I have encountered) for why that should be the case.

            To be clear: I've seen a number of rationalisations and explanations for why what's out there may not be they way we imagine it to be (which is of course possible) but the reason for creating these rationalisations and explanations is NEVER (in my experience) a piece of scientific evidence that needs to be explained in this way.

            It is always (in my experience) to allow one particular interpretation of one story written in a very old book which has seen transmission through oral history long before a long chain of edits, translations and sundry other human-common alterations.

          2. Augustus

            Re: Does it really matter ?

            The Hubble telescope can now measure parallax out to 10,000 light years.

            That has allowed the relationship of Cepheid variable rate to intensity to be confirmed, allowing the apparent intensity of Cepheids to be used to measure distances across the universe.

            I'm reading up on H. Arp's stuff, but a first review has me thinking that some objects not fitting the Hubble law doesn't mean the Big Bang theory is disproved, only that we don't know the nature of some of the things we see. Claims that Einstein's General relativity is wrong have to deal with the detailed confirmations of it, at least near Earth.

      4. Yesnomaybe

        Re: Does it really matter ?

        As a rule, people believe what they WANT to believe. Logic has little (not nothing, but very little) to do with it. Some people need to believe. Just let them, why bother tearing down someone's carefully constructed crutch?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does it really matter ?

      If you want a real laugh have a look at how Answers in Genesis tried to grapple with 800K year ice-core data.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does it really matter ?

      And according to some people socialism is a great concept. Until you look at Venezuela and Greece.

      The fact remains that you should allow people to have their beliefs without undue snarky criticism if you would like the same in return.

      1. A Dawson

        Re: Does it really matter ?

        Or you could look at the Nordic countries ....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does it really matter ?

        Socialism is a religion like the others. You don't have to prove it works. You just promise some future paradise and people will blindly believe in it. Meanwhile, its priesthood becomes rich and powerful, while the others are asked to sacrifice themselves 'for the cause'.

        It's just a different variety of opium.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Does it really matter ?

          Meanwhile, its priesthood becomes rich and powerful, while the others are asked to sacrifice themselves 'for the cause'.

          That sounds remarkably like the capitalism which so many poor people vote for.

      3. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Does it really matter ?

        Socialism is a great concept.

        There has never been anything like a proper implementation of it though & unlikely to ever be unless there's a radical change in human nature.

  4. Tom Womack

    You're 1500 years out!

    The Miyake event was in 775 CE (during the reign of Offa, king of Mercia, and at the end of the reign of Constantine V, Emperor of Byzantium), not 775BCE (around the time of the first Olympic Games in classical Greece, and well before the invention of either Mercia or Byzantium). The other one is 993-994CE (reign of Ethelred the Unready)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/774–775_carbon-14_spike

    1. Efros

      Re: You're 1500 years out!

      Error appears to be on El Reg's end the publication abstract says CE not BCE.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You're 1500 years out!

      >Ethelred the Unready

      Trump ancestor?

      1. Mark 85

        Re: You're 1500 years out!

        >Ethelred the Unready

        Trump ancestor?

        No. You're thinking of Ethelred the Blowhard. Ethelred the Unready was Jerry Ford's ancestor.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You're 1500 years out!

          Actually the Unready is supposedly a translation error and it should be instead translated as the poorly counselled. Considering Trump now has the Breitbart fever swamp folks formally working for him it still applies.

      2. Axman

        Re: You're 1500 years out!

        No. The furthest back we can trace Donald Trump's ancestors is to the second miyake spike where his ancestor on his maternal side is Domnall Cìreadh Mòr Thairis

    3. asdf

      Re: You're 1500 years out!

      Holy shit that solar fllare must have been orders of magnitude stronger than the Carrington Event. I also bet far future generations (if we last that long) would be able to use above ground nuclear testing as a time marker as well in some way. Very unique signature(unlike anything in our history), global (Strontium 90 in nearly every humans bones got their attention finally) and fairly brief.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: You're 1500 years out!

        I also bet far future generations (if we last that long) would be able to use above ground nuclear testing as a time marker as well in some way.

        We already use it as a time marker. Whenever you see a time quoted as 'ya' (meaning years ago), if you want to get the actual date you should subtract it from 1950. 1950 has been declared as the fixed present because of the nuclear tests effing up accurate radioactive dating of anything grown since then.

  5. Tom Womack

    I'm afraid you've screwed up the BCE->CE correction

    It seems you have changed 'BCE' to 'CE' throughout. The Assyrian eclipse was in 763 BCE, we are reasonably confident that the foundation of Rome was 753 BCE, the first year of the Gonghe Regency, after which Chinese chronology is apparently pretty well-known, is 841BCE.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonghe_Regency

    This means the last three paragraphs of the article, which I suspect are commentary inserted by the article author rather than extracted from the source publication, don't make much sense.

    1. Fungus Bob
      Joke

      Re: I'm afraid you've screwed up the BCE->CE correction

      The Reg just re-carbon dated the article. Everything's fine now. Really. Just don't look to hard.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm afraid you've screwed up the BCE->CE correction

        Usually when article typos are mentioned in the comments it takes a while to fix. I guess the authors have better things to do than to zealously read our comments, go figure. I know I do!

        Better to use the corrections link found after every article. I did that for this one and the fix arrived within two hours.

        Good old email. Private and effective, like all the best things in life.

  6. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Wasn't this done decades ago?

    I'm away from home at the moment, but I've definitely got books that explain how dendrochronology can be used to calibrate C14 dates, complete with graphs of how C14 levels varied across history, spikes and all, those graphs being derived from tree rings.

    It is also, if I may venture to say so, pretty effing obvious that if you have two dating methods then you can use one to check the other and vice versa, so even if I didn't have the published evidence in my bookcase I'd be pretty gob-smacked to discover that people had omitted to do this over a period of several decades.

    So what's actually new here?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Wasn't this done decades ago?

      >So what's actually new here?

      We already use use dendro to calibrate C14 because we could measure the C14 level in each ring and correct for the variation in C14 production (due to the sun) = makes C14 more accurate.

      This says that there were a couple of C14 spikes that were so obvious that if you find them in a tree ring it was exactly that year. So it give you an absolute point to peg tree ring data to for around that time - so makes tree more useful because you don't have to count back from a more modern matching sequence.

      1. Mephistro
        Thumb Up

        Re: Wasn't this done decades ago? (@ YAAC)

        Nicely explained!

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Wasn't this done decades ago?

      "So what's actually new here?"

      That was my thought too.

      Firstly, if the timber is of a suitable species and comes from an area where there are good dendrochronological records then a good tree-ring sequence should be sufficient. If the timber was imported to the site there's a possibility of identifying the general area it came from.

      Secondly, I recall the idea of "wiggle matching" being proposed years ago. Variations in the 14C content have been discussed since the '60s.

      AFAICS this would have a place as a dating method for situations for which there are no good dendrochronological sequences. That would include species which are too erratic; someone mentioned alder and pine - the latter are apt to show accelerated growth round just part of their circumference for a few years. It would also include areas where the climate is more equable or where tree growth continues all the year round. A third application would be fragments too small to build a dateable sequence. The disadvantage would be that you'd have to have an approximate date so you know which event you're looking at.

      It's as well to remember that all you date is the date of growth of the wood you've got. If you don't have the cambial surface, or at least the start of the sap wood for oak, you don't know how much later the tree was cut and even if you know that you can't necessarily tell when in was incorporated into the actual structure you're trying to date.

  7. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    But but but...

    What if these trees ate only the eyeballs from elderly Greenland Sharks?

    Oh, hmmm... ...disregard.

  8. Mark76
    FAIL

    You kept writing "CE" (Common Era) when you meant to write "BCE" (Before Common Era).

    For example... The "Assyrian Eclipse" happened in 763 BC/E. Not 763 CE/AD (when there were barely any Assyrians around to record an eclipse and the Arabs were the dominant force in Mesopotamia.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "When plants are alive the carbon-14 to carbon-12 ratio remains constant, but after they die the ratio begins to decline. A measurement of the ratio, therefore, provides a way to estimate how much time has elapsed since the plant was alive."

    This is somewhat garbled. Material is laid down in the cell walls beneath the cambial layer, at the outer edge of the wood. The isotope ratio is that prevailing in the plant at that time, mostly from photosynthesis, maybe some from stored carbon from previous seasons. There may be some additional deposits of material such as tannins within the wood later* but essentially this is the material being dated. The carbon in the wood is not subsequently exchanged with that in other parts of the plant which "remains constant" seems to imply. Once the wood is laid down the isotope ratio starts to change by radioactive decay. In general the outer wood will have a younger radiocarbon date than the inner wood on the same tree.

    *In oak this is the difference between sap wood and heart wood.

  10. Ru'
    Unhappy

    A bit off topic., but I must have been asleep; when did all this PC CE and BCE nonsense take over? If it's a direct match to AD and BC, then why not just use AD and BC?

    1. Richard Parkin

      Eggsackly!

    2. Hollerithevo

      Unless you are a Christian who cares...

      Then Before Christ and Anno Domini aren't terribly comfortable dating terms, as 'anno domini' (year of our Lord' forces people who don't believe that Jesus is the Lord to define their time around this. Same goes for those people who don't believe Jesus was the Messiah. Given the millions who believe neither, and yet are forced to contend with a dating system used by a dominant (or once-dominant) culture, it just seems more friendly and neutral to recognise hat we have this big time split, but to call it the Common Era and Before Common Era. I personally would like to find any interesting point in time and use that as a base. Perhaps if we could find the birth moment of Mitochrondrial Eve, we could use that. And then we could also sort out if it is a century change on 2000 or 2001...

      Short answer: it's just terminology. Just as we all moved to 'aluminium' etc in civilised countries.

      1. cray74
        Joke

        Re: Unless you are a Christian who cares...

        Short answer: it's just terminology. Just as we all moved to 'aluminium' etc in civilised countries.

        Ya'll misspelled 'aluminum' and 'civilized.' 'Murika!

        (What? Someone was going to say it.)

        1. Cirdan
          Headmaster

          Re: Unless you are a Christian who cares...

          @cray74

          Fake Merkin!

          That's spelled "y'all", y'all.

          And if it's plural, it's " all y'all ".

          Oh, good Lord, it's actually picked up by Swype and spelled correctly!!!

          ... Cirdan...

          1. Swarthy
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Unless you are a Christian who cares...

            Wait, isn't the whole point of a merkin that it is fake?

          2. cray74

            Re: Unless you are a Christian who cares...

            Fake Merkin! That's spelled "y'all", y'all.

            I've spelled it "ya'll" since I got busted for scrawling it in super-sized lettering on my Snoopy kids suitcase, like 35 years ago in Missouri. I was proud because it was my first use of an apostrophe, just like big kids. Mom didn't reciprocate appreciation for my crayonmanship on account of poor grammar and vandalism, and wouldn't let me use Snoopy as a carry-on afterward. It's the sort of experience that sticks with you. ("Ain't" was also unacceptable grammar, spoken or written, in her presence.)

            PS: "ya'll" passes the Chrome browser and MS Office spell checks.

      2. Fungus Bob

        Re: Unless you are a Christian who cares...

        "Short answer: it's just terminology"

        And lazy. Really, if you don't agree with using the incorrectly calculated birthdate of a Jewish guy as your reference point for a calendar then don't just take the easy way out and rename stuff, find a new reference point. Personally I think the development of writing would be a good point to use.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Unless you are a Christian who cares...

          "find a new reference point."

          Nooooooo.....we did that once already!!!! People lost entire days from their lives. If you chose a whole new reference point and change the number of the *year* we could all die years early. (or later, please make it later!!)

          1. Fungus Bob

            Re: Unless you are a Christian who cares...

            If we all die years early it would solve a lot of traffic congestion problems.

        2. Stoneshop
          FAIL

          Re: Unless you are a Christian who cares...

          Personally I think the development of writing would be a good point to use.

          And you have a single, precise date for that?

          I'd propose that today is 2457622.5. or 22 August, 6728.

        3. Axman

          Re: Unless you are a Christian who cares...

          The most obvious new reference point would be the birthday of Mitochondrial Eve. As we don't know when exactly her birthday was then we will need to make a bit of a guess. we know she was born some 100,000 to 200,000 years ago, so I'd suggest making today 23rd August 102,016 with her birthday on the 1st January 0 ME

          In this schema the Battle of Hastings took place on 14th October 101,066, the Battle of Actium took place on 2nd September 99,970, and the very first Olympic Games took place in 99,225.

          No more before this or after that nonsense for historical (and a vast swathe of prehistorical) stuff.

      3. Stoneshop
        Coat

        Re: Unless you are a Christian who cares...

        people who don't believe Jesus was the Messiah

        He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy! Now, piss off!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Ru'

      . . . because we are moving away from the baseline assumption that everyone in the world (well, everyone who matters) is christian.

      It doesn't seem to have taken too much effort for you to decode it so what's the problem?

      Please don't let be another Imperial/Metric, Fahrenheit/Centigrade thing . . . . .

  11. CarbonLifeForm

    So I'm confused. Do these "cosmic irradiation events" mess up other radiological dating, or not? You don't have to believe in a young earth to have healthy skepticism regarding some of our dating methods - an error of a century in antiquity can lead to gross errors in perception regarding chronology of events.

    If archaeologists two thousand years hence screw up and think that WWII occurred in 2000, (only a 60 year difference) they'd be hard pressed to prove it happened, and might consider it a "legendary war", like the Trojan War was once thought to have been.

    1. Axman

      > "If archaeologists two thousand years hence screw up and think that WWII occurred in 2000, (only a 60 year difference) they'd be hard pressed to prove it happened, and might consider it a "legendary war", like the Trojan War was once thought to have been." <

      We know of the Trojan war through literature. A certain amount of archaeological evidence can be tied into a 'war'. The literature then guides the archaeology.

      If in future an archaeologist is examining WWII artefacts they will be viewing them through the prism of historical records and not poetical literature. The historical records will have a date associated with them and it's hardly likely that 1945 will mutate into 2000.

      plus the most obvious 'archaeological' dig two thousand years from now associated with a WWII site would most probably be at Hiroshima. Given that any object discovered there with a date associated with it would state Showa 20 and not 1945, it is still more probable that lists of conversion dates would still exist that would pinpoint the object to 1945 rather than somebody would mysteriously assign a year of 2000 to it.

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