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Prior to that, they had to depend on more rudimentary and imprecise methods, such as counting the number of rings on a cross-section of tree trunk.This all changed in the 1940s when US chemist Willard Libby discovered that carbon-14, a radioactive isotope, could be used to date organic compounds.
But to suggest that there might be reasons, yet unknown, for being wary of tests on certain organic material was quite reasonable. By the time a halt was called to aboveground nuclear testing in 1963, levels of carbon-14 in the atmosphere had doubled beyond natural background levels, says Frisén. By taking this into account, one can see detectable changes in levels of carbon-14 in modern DNA, he says."Most molecules of the cell will turn over all the time.The C14 will undergo radioactive decay, and after 5730 years, half of it will be gone. So, if we find such a body, the amount of C14 in it will tell us how long ago it was alive. The method doesn't work on things which didn't get their carbon from the air.
This leaves out aquatic creatures, since their carbon might (for example) come from dissolved carbonate rock.Many biblical creationists, convinced that the world was but about 6,000 years old, or certainly not more than 10,000 years old, were posting on the internet examples of carbon dating test that produced obvious wrong results, even extraordinarily wrong results. fixation of dissolved HCO3 [bicarbonate] with which the shells are in carbon isotope equilibrium.