Radio carbon dating techniques

The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.

The resulting radiocarbon combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis; animals then acquire in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.

To a first approximation, you can assume that this radiation is constant. A living creature is continually replenishing its carbon with C14 from the air. Since C14 decays at a constant rate, you can measure the ratio between the two and determine when it stopped breathing. Not by enormous amounts (that would probably kill off all life on earth), but by enough to throw off the results by years, decades, or (at the extreme) century or so. The 5,700 year half-life means that half the C14 disappears every 5,700 years.

After 10 generations, only 2^-10 of it remains, or 1/10 of 1%.

This essay shall focus on the importance of radio carbon dating, potassium argon dating, seriation and stratigraphy to the archaeological study.

Accurate dating has always been of importance to scientist and archaeologist alike.

Because it reacts identically to C-12 and C-13, C-14 becomes attached to complex organic molecules through photosynthesis in plants and becomes part of their molecular makeup.

Libby received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960.

This is the gist: carbon-14 naturally decays to C12 with a half life of 5,730 years.

If all of the carbon had been present on the earth from the beginning, there would be no C14 any more, just C12 (and C13, which is also stable).

Radiocarbon, or Carbon-14, dating is probably one of the most widely used and best known absolute dating methods. Radiocarbon dating relies on a simple natural phenomenon.

This allowed for the establishment of world-wide chronologies.

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