Bible Archaeology

Equation: Radiocarbon Dating


Right now, 40,000 feet overhead, a cosmic ray is sending a neutron smashing into a nitrogen atom, smacking a proton out of its nucleus and forming an isotope called carbon-14. Armed with the equation below, archaeologists use these atoms to pinpoint how old the Dead Sea Scrolls are, or the drawings in Chauvet Cave, or Ötzi the Iceman.

Living things constantly consume carbon—through photosynthesis, for plants, and for animals, ingestion of those plants. The atmospheric ratio of carbon-14 to regular carbon-12 remains consistent at one part per trillion, so if something is alive, one-trillionth of its carbon atoms will be C-14. But once a plant or animal dies, its carbon-14 is no longer replenished. C-14 is radioactive and unstable, with a half-life of 5,730 years, which means that half the atoms will turn back into nitrogen over that period. That rate of decay is key to gauging age.

Amount of carbon-14 detected in the sample

Amount of carbon-14 in the sample at the time of death, which would have been
a trillionth of the total carbon present

Half-life of carbon-14: 5,730 years

What we’re solving for: time elapsed since the thing—or the organic materials
used to make the thing—died


Cardinal William Levada: Ordinariate ‘is Pope’s project’

Catholic Herald:

One of the Vatican’s most senior cardinals last night urged Catholics to support the ordinariate, saying it was a personal project of Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), was speaking at a fundraising event sponsored by the Friends of the Ordinariate and The Catholic Herald.

During a short speech he said the ordinariate was viewed by the Vatican in a similar way to the Ambrosian Rite, a form of liturgy that is at least 1,200 years old, used by about five million Catholics mainly in Italy.

He said the ordinariate “is really his [the Pope’s] project”, and described it as a “important new structure in the Church”.

The cardinal said: “We all want to give the support of our prayers to the ordinariate. In these delicate times there is a need for financial support.”

Mgr Keith Newton, the leader of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said the ordinariate was a “small and fragile plant”.

He said that £50,000 had been raised already through advertisements in The Catholic Herald. “In the long term we want to be self-financing,” he said. “We rely on people’s generosity.” Mgr Newton said in July that the annual running costs of the ordinariate would be £1 million.

The Personal Ordinariate of England and Wales was formally established by the CDF in January for Anglicans who wished to enter into full communion with Rome while retaining some of their Anglican patrimony.

In a letter at the time Cardinal Levada said it was a “unique and historic moment” in the life of the English Church…

The event was hosted by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster in the Throne Room at Archbishop’s House, Westminster…


‘Payback is Hell’

Sick, especially in light of yesterday’s local shark attack:

They are well known for their shocking adverts with some of the world’s most famous people posing naked to help boost their animal rights message.

But this time PETA may have gone too far with its latest campaign, which suggests those who swim or fish in waters containing sharks are attacked or killed as ‘payback’.

The new poster shows a shark eating a severed human leg and the blood-stained slogan ‘Payback is Hell’, which aims to shock people into turning vegan.

PETA say that in particular they hope it will make people rethink fishing, suggesting if people inflict pain on sealife they deserve it themselves.

This could be considered particularly offensive as a British man was yesterday left fighting for his life after he was attacked by a great white shark while swimming in the sea near Cape Town, South Africa. He has been named as Michael Cohen, who had lived in the country for a long time and had a number of his family members living nearby…

More here.

Why don’t they go out and convince sharks to go vegan?