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After reading one of the latest findings by scientists, Stardust was considered the oldest material on earth. However having not much of an experience with chemistry, I was intrigued upon how scientists were able to find such finding therefore from my understanding, scientists used spectrometry to determine composition of stars to then determine the age of the material(hopefully I am not wrong). However, reading one of the news article, it said that “ stardust that predated the formation of our solar system by billions of years, scientists said on Monday.” This gabbed my attention because it says that scientists found that it was on Monday but the question that came to mind is, how reliable is spectrometry in the determination of such exact findings? Please let me know what you think?

I asked the same question on chemistry stack exchange but I feel like it is more towards philosophy. Also providing me with some scientific claims where scientific instruments might not be accurate will help me a lot.

Thanks a lot.

News article: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/1/14/stardust-oldest-material-on-earth-found-inside-meteorite

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    Maybe try physics SE. As a side note, caution should be exerted with news articles about recent scientific findings. The goal of the news paper or site is to grab your attention and publish faster than the competitors. As a result it often happens that they sell a finding for more exciting that it really is, without waiting for the scientific consensus to settle. One cool sounding study gets a lot of noise but the 10 other studies on the same subject with less exciting result will not make it to the general media. – armand Jan 14 at 11:59
  • Thanks a lot for letting me know @armand , do you have any idea of previous knowledge claims that might have shown that scientific instruments might not be reliable? – General MO7 Jan 14 at 12:58
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    From the top of my head, there is this time they thought they found neutrinos going faster than light. The media coverage was spot on what i describe above: lots of publicity, experts witnessing on TV, "was Einstein wrong?", etc, when in the end the scientific team just found out they mistook in computing the speed. – armand Jan 14 at 13:42
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    It's research that has been published in PNAS and currently has some 20 mentions in newer works, none of which seems to criticize it. The dating is done mostly through establishing isotope ratios which a routine technique (spectrometry, not necessarily spectroscopy); details are in the published paper pnas.org/content/pnas/117/4/1884.full.pdf – sand1 Jan 14 at 17:11
  • I’m voting to close this question because it is about science not philosophy, (and this multiple-choice form is borked). – Guy Inchbald Jan 16 at 18:24
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The two cases you cite are physically different and cannot be validly compared in the manner you have.

Stars that formed right after the big bang start their lives with nothing but hydrogen, helium, and traces of lithium. As they age, they fuse those elements into progressively heavier elements and the age of a "first generation" star can be estimated by spectroscopically looking at the ratios of H and He to other ratios of the product elements.

When one of those stars runs out of fuel and is bigger than a certain critical size, it explodes in a supernova and all those heavier elements are vaporized and blown into space, after which they condense into extremely tiny dust specks that contain those elements. This is called "stardust".

Most of that dust gets pulled into clumps by gravity, along with any H and He that happens to be left over and conveniently lying around, and eventually a second-generation star condenses together, lights up, and begins burning the H and He and more of those heavier fusion products are added to the stuff from which such a second-generation star was formed.

When that star blows up, the stardust it produces has a different composition from first-generation stardust, and each time the stardust gets reprocessed inside another star, its composition gets changed again.

The holy grail of astrophysics is first-generation stardust which never got gravitationally scooped up and reprocessed, because you can deduce the elemental composition of the universe at very early times by studying it- since it was produced by the first generation of starts to form.

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