Radiocarbon dating can be used to date
Radiocarbon dating can be used on samples of bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers.
The half-life of a radioactive isotope describes the amount of time that it takes half of the isotope in a sample to decay.
Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons.
This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.
The ensuing atomic interactions create a steady supply of c14 that rapidly diffuses throughout the atmosphere.
Plants take up c14 along with other carbon isotopes during photosynthesis in the proportions that occur in the atmosphere; animals acquire c14 by eating the plants (or other animals).
This half life is a relatively small number, which means that carbon 14 dating is not particularly helpful for very recent deaths and deaths more than 50,000 years ago.Professor Willard Libby produced the first radiocarbon dates in 1949 and was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts.Radiocarbon dating works by comparing the three different isotopes of carbon.It also has some applications in geology; its importance in dating organic materials cannot be underestimated enough.In 1979, Desmond Clark said of the method “we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation” (3).