Prometheus carbon dating
Baison pulls out one of the boxes and holds up a section of the tree’s trunk, one brought down the mountain by Currey and a crew from the U. Chris Baisan checks a box containing Prometheus cross sections, Aug.
7, 2015, in the archive at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
Locals whisper about a curse, repeating rumors — soon accepted as fact — about how cutting down the ancient tree ruined the grad student’s career.
A retired cop from Arizona tries to salvage the remains and fails. At the tree-ring lab, researchers tell a more scientific version of the story.
WPN-114, he would write later, had a dead crown 17 feet high and a living shoot 11 feet high.“Currey was not a dendrochronologist,” Baison said of the graduate student who chopped down the now-famous bristlecone. That’s not what we do here." What they do at the lab is dendrochronology.That is, in essence, a study of a tree’s time as a tree. The tree seemed common enough, the district ranger concluded.“You wouldn’t have needed to do anything else.”But — like so many things about the Prometheus story — that’s not what happened.During the summers of 19, Donald Currey hiked the high peaks of the Snake Range near the Nevada-Utah border, studying the boulder-strewn slopes and trying to reconstruct the region’s climate during a “little ice age” that began in the 15th century.
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They don’t talk much about “Prometheus” and, although the three boxes are marked “Currey Tree,” for Donald Currey, the graduate student who cut the bristlecone down, the preferred name is its specimen reference, WPN-114.“Currey was not a dendrochronologist,” said Chris Baison, one of the scientists who helped determine the age of the tree. That’s not what we do here.”What they do at the lab is dendrochronology.