DIY Carbon Dating

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Wissing
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DIY Carbon Dating

Post #1

Post by Wissing »

Has anyone here ever carbon-dated anything? If so, I would like to know how I might do a DIY carbon dating experiment at home. Please, only respond if you have actually done this.

Thanks!

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Divine Insight
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Post #2

Post by Divine Insight »

Unless a person is extremely financially well-off, I seriously doubt that anyone has ever done this at home DIY as a hobby.

In fact, anyone who was interested enough to invest in a lab capable of making these kinds of measurements would surely not keep it as a mere DIY hobby.

This video may give you some idea of the equipment you would need to have.

[youtube][/youtube]

Unless you are extremely well-off financially you won't be able to do this. It's clearly not a poor man's hobby. ;)
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Wissing
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Post #3

Post by Wissing »

That's a problem. There has to be a cheap, scaled-down way to do this. Otherwise, how can the laity test it empirically?

Any experts in the crowd?

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Divine Insight
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Post #4

Post by Divine Insight »

Wissing wrote: That's a problem. There has to be a cheap, scaled-down way to do this.
Why? By who's decree?
Wissing wrote: Otherwise, how can the laity test it empirically?
Simple. Seek out a job in a professional laboratory as a lab assistant. You can then watch the processes first hand. If you're really good they might even let you actually do an experiment yourself. And then you have have your DIY experience using their equipment. You'll even get paid for working there, instead of costing you money. ;)

Or you can go to a college that has a laboratory sufficient for making these tests. But that probably will cost you money. But at least you'd also have the benefit of taking courses that will teach you the details and even test to see if you understood what they taught you.
Wissing wrote: Any experts in the crowd?
No amount of expertise will change the fact that elaborate lab equipment will be required. You might be able to get by building your own equipment to some degree, but I think you are really going to find yourself in a pickle at the end of the process when you need to actually measure the amount of carbon 12, 13, and 14 in the final sample to compare their relative amounts.

Do you think you could build the accelerator described at the end of the video as a DIY project at home?

I am an expert scientist and I'm quite confident that I couldn't do it as a DIY project. Especially not on my budget.

Your demand that this process must be within the reach of the layperson who has no extraordinary financial resources is simply unrealistic. What you can do is study the process and understand how the process works. You shouldn't need to actually build the lab to verify that it does indeed work. Other people have done that for you.

Finally, if you can't get a job in a lab, and you can't afford college tuition, then you still have the option of visiting a lab to take a tour of it. So it's not like seeing the equipment and processes first-hand is impossible for you to do. It's just a matter of how determined you are to actually get out there and do it.
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Wissing
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Post #5

Post by Wissing »

Hey DI,

Sorry if I came across as rude. I prefer to test things for myself, is all. If you don't know of a feasible way for me to do that, that's fine.

By the way, you sound like an interesting person. What's your field? I'd be interested in hearing what sort of science you do. We can take it to another thread if you'd like.

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Post #6

Post by Divine Insight »

Wissing wrote: What's your field?
That's hard to narrow down. I was never a "pure scientist" in the sense of doing pure scientific research, unfortunately. All of my scientific work was done in industry in R&D. Of course, along side that I was almost continually taking colleges courses on some level even as I worked. Often times the research labs actually offered college course that we could take right there. And I loved to take courses so I was in a college classroom almost the whole way through my career. So even though I was in industrial R&D it often felt to me like I was in pure research because I was often doing purely scientific experiments in these college labs.

In any case, in terms of my actual career, it varied quite a bit. I started out my career as a chemist studying Tribology (the study of Lubrication, Friction and Wear). This was done primary for an aluminum rolling mill company. I didn't work at the actual rolling mill, I worked in a totally separate research lab. Originally I started out just doing experiment for engineers. But I was always offering them better ways to do their experiments and they saw value in my ideas and gave me plenty leeway. Before long I was actually designing brand new experiments as well as automated test equipment that I designed, built and programmed myself. I soon became recognized by all the engineers as someone they could come to for ideas, and possible new experiments and equipment. So I rapidly moved from mere "Chemistry Technician" to become an "Automated Equipment Designer". I already had a lot of experience in electronics, mechanics and computer programming from previous jobs and personal hobbies.

From there I moved to a company that built aerospace equipment. Not actual planes, but the electronics that guide the planes. "Inertial Guidance Electronics". I worked on many projects there for companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, NASA, and the US Military. I worked on projects like Skylab, "smart bombs", and inertial guidance systems for commercial airliners. I also worked on projects for NASA like space telescopes and robotics. This job entailed the bulk of my career life.

I worked for another company also doing R&D on Electrostatic Chucks. These are electrostatic "vises" that are used to hold large integrated circuits like computer CPUs when they are manufactured. There was a lot of physics and fancy electronics and programming in that job as well.

My last commercial job was working for a company that built radiology equipment for hospitals. Like X-ray machines, etc. Again, working in R&D in electronics and programming these machines.

Finally I moved to the country where I now reside. The last five years of my working life I taught college physics and mathematics. I was then forced to retire due to health problems. I would still be teaching today if my health would have permitted.

Now I'm retired. I don't do much of anything in particular. All my family and most of my friends are dead. Friends who are still living live far away from me and we seldom meet in person anymore. Now I write and play music just for fun.

So in terms of my 'field'? I would say primarily physics and electronics. I was into chemistry at the beginning (which was my college major) but I haven't done any chemistry for many years. Once it was discovered that I could design and build automated test equipment that seemed to be in high demand and basically became my career path simply because that's what companies seemed to need.

~~~~

I just want to add here also that during my entire career life I continued to attend college classes. Often times these were actually offered right in the research labs. I was a bit of a nerd, so I would often attend classes after work just because I loved to take these classes. The classes are often aimed at pure science and we did experiments in those labs too. So even though I was working in industrial R&D I often felt like I was working in pure science as well, due to these constant college courses. I did many different experiments in laboratories.

I can't say that I ever did any carbon dating though. That particular experiment never came up. In fact, I can't even remember today all the experiments I had done. I'm losing my memory due to some form of dementia, and that is part of my health issue. I've lost my ability to do fancy mathematics anymore too. I look at equations I used to be able to solve in my head and now I can't even figure out how to start to solve them on paper. They are familiar to me only in appearance. But don't ask me to explain how they work anymore.

And that's a shame too because I used to love to solve differential equations almost like a game just for entertainment. But now they're all Greek to me.

Losing one's mind is a terrible thing to experience. But I've come to accept it.
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Wissing
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Post #7

Post by Wissing »

Sounds a lot like where I'm headed. By day, I do R&D, studying wear of carbide tools. By night, I make stuff on my 3d printer. It's a shame about the health problems (someone close to me is going through something similar). Otherwise I'd say you'd probably enjoy the 3d printing hobby.

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