Can carbon dating be faked

"This comparison, used for the first time to ascertain the authenticity of a painting, demonstrated with absolute certainty that the canvas support was produced after 1959, at least four years later than Leger's death in 1955," it adds.

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The results of the analysis — which revealed a much higher radiocarbon content than there would have been had the work been an original — are published in .

Pier Andrea Mando, head of the institute's Florence division, says it is "the first time radiocarbon dating has been used to reveal a forgery in contemporary art, by comparing levels of that isotope in the atmosphere during the bomb peak period." "After about forty years of doubt surrounding the authenticity of this painting, I am relieved that thanks to the application of innovative scientific techniques, the cloud of uncertainty has at last been lifted and Douglas Cooper's connoisseurship vindicated," says Philip Rylands, director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

(More on uses of carbon dating)But that just proves the age, right? Whiskies are good candidates to study because of their strict production rules: the components in each brand are fairly constant even in different batches.

This makes it relatively easy to tell a Scotch from a Bourbon, or identify a specific blend.

Researchers have used carbon dating methods to prove that most pre-1900 Scotch whiskies are fake…

but the good news is that the technology can be used to identify fake and mislabelled foods as well. Scientists used carbon dating techniques from archaeology to spot fakes among rare, collectable whiskies.

Italian nuclear physicists turned art detectives say they have discovered that a painting in the prestigious Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice is a fake.

The art world's top experts and researchers have been trying to establish since the 1970s whether a painting believed to be part of the "Contraste de Formes" series produced by French artist Fernand Leger between 19 was genuine.

(Find out more)What are these fingerprints and how do we find them?

Fingerprints reveal unique information about the product (for example, Tennessee whisky has to pass through charcoal before ageing) and its original ingredients (say bourbon is made mostly from corn and Scotch from barley and grains).

Carbon dating looks for the amount of mildly radioactive carbon-14 (C-14) within materials of organic origin.

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