Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Faking the Shroud of Turin with Hamburgers

Pssst, kid...wanna buy something really OLD?
  (+70, -13)(+70, -13)(+70, -13)
(+70, -13)
  [vote for,

Needed: flax plants, a greenhouse, and a propane grill.

Okay, got all that? Every evening open the greenhouse vents. Every morning, close them and grill a burger inside. Just for a few minutes, just enough to dilute the natural CO2 in the air with fossil carbon. Once the flax is grown, harvest it and have it woven by traditional methods. Paint Frank Zappa on it with red ochre (optional), and get it dated with a carbon-14 test.

Bloody old, isn’t it!
ldischler, May 31 2005

Virgin Mary Sandwich http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6511148/
Now if someone mass-marketed these atthe same prices, they'd make a packet. [hidden truths, May 31 2005]

How Does Carbon Dating Work? http://www.biblical...wers/c14_method.php
Aha - so regular old Carbon-12 is constantly bombarded by cosmic rays etc, creating a freakish variant called Carbon-14 - while you're alive, you (and plants, fish etc) breath in the C-14 - which stays at a constant level in the atmosphere. Once a condition of daisy-pressure ensues, the normal take up of Carbon-14 stops - and by measuring how much is left after a certain time (it natually decays) - gives you an indication of how old something is. Elementary. [zen_tom, Jul 07 2006]

Radiocarbon Dating http://www.newton.d.../gen06/gen06080.htm
Just to clarify in case you were lied to when you were younger by the creationists like I was. [quantum_flux, Apr 09 2008]

Cosmic Rays http://www.answers....+ray?cat=technology
Interesting to note that the cosmic ray flux through our atmosphere is now thought to have experienced a 1.5 to 2-fold millennium-timescale change in the past forty thousand years. Perhaps this throws radiocarbon dating methods into question, but it doesn't quite have anything to do with creationism, but on the contrary it means that relatively newer dated things are actually older than they appear to be! [quantum_flux, Apr 09 2008]

The Shroud Controversies http://en.wikipedia...iki/Shroud_of_Turin
Don't buy anything from anyone who says they know definitively, because the work is unfinished. [RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2008]

National Geographic Article http://news.nationa..._TVJesusshroud.html
Like I said... [RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2008]


       Is it a fossil hamburger, or how does a burger make carbon-14?   

       Truth is, I don't understand how the carbon dating thing works - they count Carbon-14 right? But is more older, or less?   

zen_tom, May 31 2005

       Brilliant! One of Halfbakery's best. Bun your burger with a croissant.
baconbrain, May 31 2005

       Reminds me of the grilled sandwich story. See link.
hidden truths, May 31 2005

       Less carbon-14 = older object.
shapu, May 31 2005

       Half-life sized?   

       And the 'fossil carbon' comes from the coals, right? Damn, I'm slow today. Genius!
zen_tom, May 31 2005

       So, you think the original shroud was faked in some medieval fast-food joint? [+]
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 31 2005

       Beautiful, an idea that is the epitome of being halfbakery. Plus extra points for making fun of people who think they see Jesus in a cheese-sandwich or something (did anyone else hear about that? The woman sold it to a casino for $40000)   

       A lovely fossilised croissant coming your way
Germanicus, May 31 2005

       In the way that it is light hearted and strikes a chord with many people, whilst being very silly yet not just stupid.   

       Or am I wrong? I may be, please tell me if I am.
Germanicus, May 31 2005

       I don't know. The idea is wacky as hell, and that makes it all fun, but I don't think a strictly fun idea should epitomize the 'bakery. That is, at the end of the day, we're trying to conjure up good ideas not funny ideas.   

       Or I'm wrong, and we accept the converse of the last statement.   

       Or, you can really fake carbon-14 tests by cooking hamburgers, in which case this idea epitomizes the 'bakery.
daseva, May 31 2005

       //carbon dating relies on the radioactive decay of a certain carbon isotope, so grilling burgers won't necessarily make it old// The point is that the carbon in the propane is wayyyyyyy old, and hence the CO2 it produces on burning is also wayyyyyyy old. It will mix with the existing atmospheric CO2 (which is only wa old) to produce a mixture which appears (isotopically) to be wayyy old. This will be absorbed by the plants to produce wayyy old flax.

A bun, for pointing out that it should be possible to fake carbon date ages. Now, if you grew a tree in a climate-controlled chamber, you could also fake the growth rings, and hence generate timber which was, dendrochronologically speaking, of any age you chose.
Basepair, May 31 2005

       I grill over charcoal, or sticks. I do not think they are that old. The sticks certainly are not, as I break them off my neighbors tree in the dead of night. I wonder, [ldischler] if you grill over coal? If so, does it impart a good flavor to your burger?
bungston, May 31 2005

       It would have to be real coal, from a mine somehwere, dug up by a welshman in a tin hat - charcoal might be a fwe years old, and wood off a tree, well. Or oil, or propane etc. From underground.   

       I think real, welsh coal burns hotter than charcoal does, and might impart a slightly oilier flavour (and possibly a fair amount of soot too, unless it was the smokeless kind, but I don't know where that stuff's from)   

       Propane is your best bet for minimum oily flavour impartation.
zen_tom, Jun 01 2005

       "Propane is your best bet for minimum oily flavour impartation."
As specified in the idea.

       Could someone looking for a forgery of this kind could detect it by the quantity of other isotopes? I presume so, but guess that they'd have to be looking for a fake.
st3f, Jun 01 2005

       Or smell it for hamburger grease.
Worldgineer, Jun 01 2005

       Yeah, that too.
st3f, Jun 01 2005

       <counting tree rings> 2 ... 1 ... 1.5 ... here! Set up the lathe.   

       Beware. All that indoor combustion could cause respiratory difficulty.
reensure, Jun 01 2005

       Hah! Thanks ldischler, I needed that today.
Shz, Jun 01 2005

       Actually the whole issue of bad C14 dating has come up with the Shroud, if I recall my TV. They were dating cooties which had grown on the shroud in addition to the shroud itself.
bungston, Jun 01 2005

       "Carbon-14" A new singles bar catering for the over 50's...   

       <wait for it>   

       ...Soon "Carbon-Dating" becomes the rage all over the country!
zen_tom, Jun 01 2005

       What the heck is a cootie?
Basepair, Jun 01 2005

       Ummmm. Sorry chaps, but fossil fuel is so old it is carbon 14 dead ie it doesn't have any C-14 in it. Therefore you won't be able to adjust the age of your cotton.   

       Carbon dating only works for about 50000 years due to the half life of C-14.
hazel, Jun 03 2005

       spoil sport
jonthegeologist, Jun 03 2005

       OK, so don't use propane, use something like the roof timbers of a really old building, say, Turin Cathedral. <goes off to check the lyrics of Sting's "We work the black seam", as standard reference on carbon nuclear physics>
coprocephalous, Jun 03 2005

       //I always assumed that a 'cootie' was simply an affectionate reference to a black odd-sounding freshwater bird.// <Goes back to read "To kill a mockingbird" to see if Burris Ewell could have fulica atra crawling from his hair. Decides not>
coprocephalous, Jun 03 2005

       //Ummmm. Sorry chaps, but fossil fuel is so old it is carbon 14 dead ie it doesn't have any C-14 in it. Therefore you won't be able to adjust the age of your cotton.//

Actually, [hazel], you only DILUTE the atmospheric CO2 with fossil carbon; you don't replace it. That way you can get any level of ageing you want. To create a fake Shroud of Turin, you'd dilute the natural level to about 78%, more or less.
ldischler, Jun 03 2005

       Carbon dating isn't all it's cracked up to be. Carbon unit dating is much better.
Ling, Jun 03 2005

       //Actually, [hazel], you only DILUTE the atmospheric CO2 with fossil carbon; you don't replace it. That way you can get any level of ageing you want. To create a fake Shroud of Turin, you'd dilute the natural level to about 78%, more or less.//   

       Of course. Good point!
hazel, Jun 03 2005

       Go see those friendly chaps at your local nuclear research reactor, and ask nicely. Physicists are suckers for that.
Detly, Jun 03 2005

       Verry eenteresting.+
sartep, Jun 03 2005

       So...given that combustion of fossil fuels is slowly adding CO2 from fossil sources to the atmosphere, which was probably not there 300 years ago, does that mean that all our plants are slowly appearing...older?
Etymon, Jun 03 2005

       //does that mean that all our plants are slowly appearing... older?//

I've seen a study that said the dilution due to burning fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution is about 3.5% in the atmosphere and 2% in shallow ocean waters, which is less than I thought it would be. But yes, it will have an effect, as will the slowly declining magnetic field, which will have the opposite effect by allowing in more cosmic rays, thus creating more C14. And then there was all the C14 added to the atmosphere during the atomic testing days.
ldischler, Jun 03 2005

       // The bulk of the world's carbon is contained in various lifeforms and the oceans, in the form of various carbon compounds. The ratio at wich it is stored is roughly 3:2:2 between the atmosphere, oceans and existing plants // so where in this ratio is the geological carbon, sequestered away in chalk deposits and other carbonates?
jonthegeologist, Jun 04 2005

       Wow! How did Dan Brown miss this one in the Da Vinci Code.   

       Actually, tho, because Carbon Dating is based on the lack of C14, I don't think this works. The plants are still absorbing C14 during the day. At best, you are feeding them a little less C14 at the barby. And what about all that new carbon from the burgers? Hmmm. Anybody want to test this? Burn Propane and Carbon Date the CO2?   

       By the bye, when they Carbon Dated the Shroud, I didn't note anyone allowing for the input of new smoke from the fire in the Turin Cathedral. Wouldn't all that new C14 have brought the dating closer to the present?   

       My jury's still out on the authenticity of the Shroud, but never cook burgers with propane. Hickory. Kaiwa. They are best
MauiChuck, Jun 05 2005

       //Actually, tho, because Carbon Dating is based on the lack of C14, I don't think this works.//
It would work just fine as long as the amount of barbecue-derived CO2 were sufficient. If the shroud were "meant" to be 2000 years old, and assuming that the C14 in the propane-derived CO2 were essentially zero (half-life=5000 years or so, and propane=tens/hundreds of millions), then presumably you'd need to ensure that something like 40% of the CO2 in the greenhouse came from the propane. A significant, but not unattainable, barbecueing event.
Basepair, Jun 05 2005

       How would the nuns of Turin have dealt with a nasty smoking habit? Sweat out the offender?   

       "Bring out the holy shroud!"
reensure, Jun 05 2005

       // The upshot? The incidence of "dead", anthropogenic carbon in the atmosphere is probably somewhere between 1% and 7% of the total. This means it's practically within the error range for C-14 dating. This will change gradually, if we continue burning fossil fuels at present rates. It's significant, but not terribly so, in statistical terms.//   

       The increase in anthropogenic C-14 does have to be taken into account when carbon dating - it's one of the things that is corrected for by use of calibration curves (calibrated to other dating forms such as dendrochronology). The other thing that varies is the influx of cosmic radiation.
hazel, Jun 09 2005

       I was looking at this again. It is really a pretty slick idea underneath the Zappa / shroud / hamburger razzamatazz. It would be very easy to test for anyone with a lab capable of C14 dating. Grow 2 groups of pea plants in cups: one on the lab bench and one in a hood of some sort. Charge the air under the hood with fossil CO2 each day by running a bunsen burner in there. After a set of days, C14 date the plants. You know they are the same age. Do they date as different ages? This would be a science fair winner for sure.
bungston, Jul 07 2006

       UB's definition of history is right on, but I must add a caveat: "RECORDED history is a pastiche..." I've got to show this idea to my kids. Does anyone know where I could send something for C14 testing? How much that might cost? I'm not going to blow $10k for an Honorable Mention.
elhigh, Jul 07 2006

       I still get confused by this - can someone tell me why carbon in the form of coal is older and contains less Carbon-14 than the carbon in the CO2 in the air?   

       When did all the Carbon-14 come from in the first place, and does leaving it in the ground cause it to decay faster than just letting it float about?   

       i.e. Why is the carbon in coal generally considered older than the carbon in the air?   

       Or rather - why is coal older than air? I thought all the elements were all created in supernovae and in stellar furnaces, meaning pretty much, that everything on Earth, on an elemental scale, would have been created at round about the same time - with the exception of the short-lived products from particle accelerators and the like.
zen_tom, Jul 07 2006

       [zen tom] I used to wonder the same thing.   

       //How would the nuns of Turin have dealt with a nasty smoking habit?// Probably douse it with water then put on a clean one.   

       As [bungston] says, this is one of those very clever, 'now why didn't I think of that' ideas. +
spidermother, Jul 07 2006

       The explanation that I got of this is that C14 is generated high in the atmosphere by energetic solar radiation whacking into nitrogen. Presumably it then oxidizes spontaneously (waves hands) becoming CO2. Thus atmospheric CO2 contains a percentage of C14.   

       Non-atmospheric carbon (eg coal) gradually decays away the unstable C14 proportion. Thus the C14 component remains and the known halflife gives an estimate of how long it has been since the carbon in question was in equilibrium with that in the atmosphere - the unmodified atmopshere!
bungston, Jul 07 2006

       Yes, [zen tom] explains this in the description under his link.
spidermother, Jul 07 2006

       This idea deserves promotion to some of the upper 'bakery echelons. It is not only funny, clever and correctly punctuated, but also vaguelly sensible and seems to have taught people quite a bit about certain aspects of forenensic physics.   

       Have a propane-grilled bun.
dbmag9, Aug 08 2006

       Agreed. I've learned something from this.   

       True, while actual "carbon dating" is only useful to 50 to 60 thousand years, there are other radioactive isotopes which can be tested to the same effect, but on a longer timescale. Since the technique is virtually identical, these tests are lumped together under the heading of carbon dating for the layperson, but more accurately called "radioisotope dating".   

       I have a feeling that ldischler may be right, and that an old object may be "faked" using contaminated CO2 to grow the feedstock, such a fake would not pass further scrutiny if examined for the other radioisotopes.   

       Maybe you could even fake an ancient mummy (a pharaoh's cat, for instance) by feeding it from birth on nothing but plants grown in such a greenhouse.   

       [+], since fake antiques seem to be in fashion at the moment.
Freefall, Sep 13 2006

       Perhaps peat would work? It can be pretty old too.   

       Frankly, since the C-14 degrades to a particular form of nitrogen, I've always wondered why they don't look into the nitrogen quantity too. After all, we know that solar flares and such can produce excesses of c-14 from time to time.
ye_river_xiv, Sep 15 2006

       How did I miss this one?
RayfordSteele, Sep 15 2006

       Could you irradiate your CO2 source to create plants with a negative age? You could claim to have found a fountain of youth.
Aq_Bi, Sep 15 2006

       Cats are carnivorous, so you'll have to grow seeds, feed the seeds to chickens, then feed the chickens to a cat...
Voice, Sep 19 2007

       Would be especially cool if you could create a burger grill that produced carbon-14 emissions so you could prove that your shroud hemp is REALLY "OLD."
fuzzybunny, Apr 08 2008

       I was told the lie about how evolutionists use C-14 dating to date the fossil records when I was in a Lutheran grade school. Actually, evolutionary scientists wouldn't use a dating method that is only good for 50,000 years on something that is drastically older than that! The thing is that I knew they were lying to us when they were telling us that, but I thought the part they were lying about was that the data is only good for 50,000 years, but apparently that part is true, the false part is where they said that evolutionists actually used C-14 dating for dinosaur fossils in the first place. (does that sound correct to anybody else who have experience in dating methods?)
quantum_flux, Apr 09 2008

       As far as I know, dinosaur fossils are usually dated by knowing which stratum they are found in; strata in turn tend to be dated from their fossils.   

       This may seem circular but, ultimately, the strata are dated in absolute terms by using other radioactive decay series which run slower than carbon-14.   

       Part of the problem is that religious zealots have no qualms about lying, because they lack an internal morality.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2008

       It makes sense that N-14 in our atmosphere would be bombarded by a speeding electron or negative pion in the nucleus and thus creating C-14. Then later that C-14 reradiates that pion back out and changes back to N-14, right?   

       What's all this I hear about C-14 decaying into C-12 then? Common misconception or something!? I think that all the C-12 that exists on earth today was formed in a star as a product of 3rd generation alpha particles (helium nuclie) fusing together and then having that star having a nova or supernova explosion, whereby it travels a distance and then coallesces under gravitational entropy production into a nebula, and then into a new star and planet.   

       Finally, the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere at any given time is dependant on the cosmic ray flux from far off supernovas and our own sun's radiation interacting with the Earth's slowly shifting magnetic field (pions and electrons travel slower than light, but much faster than the denser protons and neutrons, and even faster yet than the alpha particle radiation), and hence you get your atmospheric N-14 being bombarded by your fast moving electrons and negative pions.   

       Oh, and almost forgot, the C-14 content doesn't have a thing to do with the C-12 content, they just happen to be seperate quantities that are assumed to have constant intial proportions. This must be the real reason why the burning of C-12 fossil fuels, and the changing of the cosmic ray flux have thrown the use of such C-14/C-12 dating methods into controversy.
quantum_flux, Apr 09 2008

       Actually, this would all be a waste of time. The real shroud was carbon dated, and turned out to be from around 1300. But then they argued that the sample that was used wasn't part of the original cloth. So, basically, the shroud's already been debunked carbonically/
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2008

       I think one of my aunts was debunked carbonically. Nasty business, that.
Texticle, Apr 09 2008

       Sounds like somethink me' father used t'do on the loo.   

       Dreadful smell, that.
Shadow Phoenix, Apr 10 2008

       I thought carbon dating basically told you how long the carbon had been part of a plant, as carbon stops decaying after photosynthesis.   

       Therefore the point of this idea (which may have already been fully explained in an anno I've missed) is that if you can grow a plant in an environment where all the carbon in the air has been fixed for a long time, the resulting plant will appear to be much older than it is when carbon dated, and so will anything made from the plant.
marklar, Apr 10 2008

       There are several sources for dating the shroud, and from what I remember, there's a bit of mystery that surrounds it. The fire it was in may have skewed the data, the plant pollens on are of some interest, and there are many other anomalies that haven't been explained properly, like the fact that the nail wound is through the wrists, as per proper crucifixion method instead of the midevial mistake of through the hands.   

       It's origins are not all cut and dried, so to speak.
RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2008

       Last I heard, the alleged plant pollens were from plants that "only grew in Palestine, only during the first century". Which sounds bogus to me. That'd be a special case of evolution, which is an odd thing to use to prove one's religion.
baconbrain, Apr 10 2008

       //I thought carbon dating basically told you how long the carbon had been part of a plant, as carbon stops decaying after photosynthesis. //   

       Not exactly. In fact, not at all. The level of 14C in the atmosphere is constant (it actually changes on a geological timescale, but that's by the by), because its natural decay is balanced by transmutation through bombardment in the upper atmosphere.   

       When an organism is alive, it is constantly exchanging its own carbon with that in the atmosphere, so it maintains the same 14C level as the atmosphere.   

       Once it dies, it just keeps the carbon it's got, and the 14C slowly decays.   

       Incidentally, I wonder what would happen if you dated samples from across the trunk of a very old tree. I bet the inner wood doesn't exchange much carbon.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2008

       What happens when you try and carbon-date something that's been through a heavy bombardment of CO2, like, say, a fire?   

       According to Wikipedia, the scientific community has not closed the books on its origin, and so neither do I.
RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2008

       If something has been in a fire, I don't think it'll pick up much atmospheric CO2. On the contrary, it will be generating CO2 as it burns. So, whatever carbon is left after the fire should be pretty much 'original', I'd expect. I guess fabrics exposed to a lot of smoke would pick up soot particles, which would screw the dating, but you'd deal with that before you dated. Often, specific chemical methods are used to obtain carbon from a specific material (eg, lignin in wood) as a prelude to dating.   

       //According to Wikipedia, the scientific community has not closed the books on its origin,// I think that's like saying "the scientific community has not yet ruled out creationism" - it's a very selective view of 'scientific community'. The fragments were taken under supervision, and found to be from about 1300 or so. Then the church (which kind of has a stake in this) claims that the pieces they chose for analysis were "later additions" to the shroud. Come off it.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2008

       //According to Wikipedia, the scientific community has not closed the books on its origin, and so neither do I.//   

       Well Good golly, You picked a really dependable source to base your position upon. Now if you will excuse me while I run over to Wikipedia and Change that line to say that the Scientific Community HAS closed the book on it.   

       Give me a break, if your going to make a stand based on some sort of evidence PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do us the respect to pick a source that is at least somewhat reputable.
jhomrighaus, Apr 10 2008

       //The level of 14C in the atmosphere is constant//
//I wonder what would happen if you dated samples from across the trunk of a very old tree. I bet the inner wood doesn't exchange much carbon//
It's not constant enough, which is why tree ring calibration is used.
ldischler, Apr 10 2008

       Read the article, then come talk to me. It's sources are well-documented and linked. Pay attention to the section where it says that the corner they used to date it was shown to be a later repair, as stated and analysed by the folk who did the analysis, not the church.   

       The origin of the image itself remains unknown and unexplained.   

       Geesh, some folks harbor a lot of anger.
RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2008

       No anger here at all, I just have a problem with citing Wikipedia as a source.
jhomrighaus, Apr 10 2008

       //the corner they used to date it was shown to be a later repair, as stated and analysed by the folk who did the analysis, not the church.// Yes, wasn't it a terrible oversight for the church to have accidentally given them a "repair" section to date? How very unfortunate.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2008

       So test another freakin' piece that's not from the dodgy corner. Duh.
Texticle, Apr 10 2008

       Yes, but - strangely enough - after it had given the researchers the pieces from the repaired corner (unintentionally, of course), the religious authorities decided that they didn't want to give away any other bits for testing. Duh.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2008

       Sounds like a lot of trouble to to go to, when you can buy a bottle of 'liquid smoke' to wash the shroud in, in the first place.   

       Now .. is that hickory or Mesquite flavour ?
fshome, Apr 10 2008

       Maybe they didn't want it all cut up like a paper doll? The church has a rather ambivalent attitude about the shroud, officially. If there's something behind the scenes that holds them back, I guess we'll not know.   

       I was rather talking about qf's angry response to his unfortunate Lutheran upbringing.
RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2008

       //Now .. is that hickory or Mesquite flavour //
coprocephalous, Apr 11 2008

       [quantum_flux] I guess the real question is if you believe what you are saying to those kids is it lying, or just tragic stupidity?
jhomrighaus, Apr 11 2008

       Got it: it was Leonardo with the candlestick in the camera obscura.
james_what, Apr 11 2008

       A little of both probably. It's elf-deception in order to preserve one's own belief structure, passed on from generation to generation, which degenerates into simple misinformation. When presented with the light of day, the appeal to remain blissfully ignorant becomes too great. Enter cognitive dissonance.   

       You sang that song in 8th grade? That IS tragic.   

       If you think about it it's not much different than any other way that cultures are indoctrinated; at the day care where my wife works they sing and dance along to the Macarena. Talk about being warped as a child.
RayfordSteele, Apr 11 2008


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