Physics carbon dating
Mass spectroscopy, like any man-made measurement, is not perfect. Creationists pounce on this explanation as meaning all carbon 14 readings are suspect. While that same level of contamination (if this is the explanation) will add some error to the dating of some reasonably aged sample, the error will be small -- so long as the sample is not too old. By either mechanism, this is essentially internal contamination.
In particular, given a pure sample of C12, I suspect a mass spectrometer would indicate that a non-zero amount of C14 present. All this means is that measured dates older than some oldest reliable date are just that -- to old to date reliably.
I've been poking about on the internet again (as you do) and found a whole load of stuff by creationists about the problems with carbon 14 radiometric dating.
Specifically they report (with some glee) that coal has been found to contain measurable amounts of carbon14 which it should not of course because it is about 300 million years old and dates from the carboniferous period.
I still feel that some definitive experiments in this area would be useful to test the various rational explanations for the c14 anomaly. Even so, it is always good when creationists have been casting doubt in some area to be able to completely explode their reasoning. I'm still looking for a reference, in a refereed scientific journal, confirming the finding of carbon14, in any amount, in diamonds or coal.
I can see though that science has problems taking on creationists because of the perceived risk of lending credibility to their ideas. Also as soon as one creationist idea is exploded, they just move on to another area where uncertainty in the science offers them the opportunity to mislead. Several of the test results touted by creationists were definitive experiments to assess those limitations. I suspect, but haven't been able to confirm, that the reports of carbon 14 in these substances have been made up out of whole cloth by Young Earth Creationists, but I am loath to make this claim, absent evidence that reports of these findings haven't been published in any journals that aren't connected with such organizations as the Institute for Creation Science.
I might be able to see if I can come up with some references.
I won't be able to do so in the near term -- my wife and kids want me to stop dorking with the internet and go out to eat.
After all, to my limited understanding, carbon 14 is associated with organic processes, and, right off the bat, I find myself wondering why it would be found in allotrope of carbon, which is an inorganic element.Although I can find any number of references to this seemingly vital finding on the creationist sites, I can find almost no attempt to refute or explain this anomaly on serious science sites. Here are a couple of links: given for why I've been poking about on the internet again (as you do) and found a whole load of stuff by creationists about the problems with carbon 14 radiometric dating.Anyone have any ideas about this apparent anomaly with C14 in coal?Getting back to my OP - I feel that some definitive work needs to be done in this area.It's easy to see that the sceptical creationist is simply going to see the scientific response as making excuses for the data instead of holding up some hard data that either explains or explodes the anomaly.