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The barrel represents the earth's atmosphere in which the carbon-14 accumulates.
The water leaking out the sides of the barrel represents the loss (mainly by radioactive decay) of the atmosphere's supply of carbon-14.
Creationists don't want their readers to be distracted with problems like that -- unless the cat is already out of the bag and something has to be said.
Tree-ring dating (see Topic 27) gives us a wonderful check on the radiocarbon dating method for the last 8000 years.
That is, the equilibrium point should have long since been reached given the present rate of carbon-14 production and the old age of the earth.
The next step in Henry Morris' argument was to show that the water level in our barrel analogy was not in equilibrium, that considerably more water was coming in than leaking out.
It's a great argument except for one, little thing.
The water is coming out of the hose at a steady rate as our model assumed!
The water coming out of the hose is analogous to the continuous production of carbon-14 atoms in the upper atmosphere.To that end, he quoted some authorities, including Richard Lingenfelter.Having accomplished that, Morris concluded that the barrel was still in the process of being filled up and that, given the present rate of water coming in and leaking out, the filling process began only 10,000 years ago.When the dipole moment is strong, carbon-14 production is suppressed below normal; when it is weak, carbon-14 production is boosted above normal.What the magnetic field does is to partially shield the earth from cosmic rays which produce carbon-14 high in the atmosphere.