Radiocarbon dating how stuff works

Posted by / 03-Nov-2017 06:46

Radiocarbon dating how stuff works

Until this century, relative dating was the only technique for identifying the age of a truly ancient object.By examining the object's relation to layers of deposits in the area, and by comparing the object to others found at the site, archaeologists can estimate when the object arrived at the site.This new method was based on gas and liquid scintillation counting and these methods are still used today, having been demonstrated as more accurate than Libby's original method (3).Willard Libby would receive a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1960.

Though their initial calculations were slightly incorrect thanks to the contaminants of extensive nuclear testing of the age, scientists soon discovered the error and developed methods that were more accurate, including a date of calibration to 1950.Though still heavily used, relative dating is now augmented by several modern dating techniques.Radiocarbon dating involves determining the age of an ancient fossil or specimen by measuring its carbon-14 content.When an organism dies, it stops absorbing the radioactive isotope and immediately starts decaying (7).As previously mentioned, the half life of the C isotope is 5,730 years - this means that it takes 5,730 years to reach half the radioactivity that the organism had at the point of death, another 5,730 years to reach 25% radioactivity it had at the point of death and so on.

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The next big step in the radiocarbon dating method would be Accelerated Mass Spectrometry which was developed in the late 1980s and published its first results in 1994 (3).

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