Climate science required the invention and mastery of many difficult techniques.
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Also, the Sun’s own magnetic field varies with the cycle, and that could change the way cosmic particles bombarded the Earth.
In 1961, Minze Stuiver suggested that longer-term solar variations might account for the inconsistent carbon-14 dates. Libby, for one, cast doubt on the idea, so subversive of the many dates his team had supposedly established with high accuracy.(9) Suess and Stuiver finally pinned down the answer in 1965 by analyzing hundreds of wood samples dated from tree rings.
An example of the ingenious technical work and hard-fought debates underlying the main story is the use of radioactive carbon-14 to assign dates to the distant past.
For other examples, see the essays on Temperatures from Fossil Shells and Arakawa's Computation Device.
After a creature's death the isotope would slowly decay away over millennia at a fixed rate.
Thus the less of it that remained in an object, in proportion to normal carbon, the older the object was.Making the job harder still, baffling anomalies turned up.The carbon-14 dates published by different researchers could not be reconciled, leading to confusion and prolonged controversy.De Vries thought the variation might be explained by something connected with climate, such as episodes of turnover of ocean waters.(7) Another possible explanation was that, contrary to what everyone assumed, carbon-14 was not created in the atmosphere at a uniform rate.Some speculated that such irregularities might be caused by variations in the Earth's magnetic field.As for still earlier periods, carbon-14 dating excited scientists (including some climate scientists) largely because it might shed light on human evolution the timing of our development as a species, and how climate changes had affected that.(2) It was especially fascinating to discover that our particular species of humans arose something like 100,000 years ago, no doubt deeply influenced by the ice ages.(3) A few scientists noticed that the techniques might also be helpful for the study of climate itself.