Radiocarbon dating also referred to as carbon dating or carbon dating is a method for determining Carbon dating junk science age of an object containing organic material by the properties of radiocarbona radioactive isotope of carbon. The method was developed in the late s by Willard Libbywho received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in It is based on the fact that radiocarbon 14 C is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.
The resulting 14 C combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxidewhich is incorporated into
Carbon dating junk science by photosynthesis ; animals then acquire 14 C by the plants.
When the animal or Carbon dating junk science dies, it stops exchanging carbon with its environment, and from that point onwards the Carbon dating junk science of 14 C it contains begins to decrease as the 14 C undergoes radioactive decay.
Measuring the amount of
Carbon dating junk science in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that
Carbon dating junk science be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.
The older a sample is, the less 14 C there is to be detected, and because the half-life of 14 C the period of
Carbon dating junk science after which half of a given sample will have decayed is about 5, years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50, years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples.
Research has been ongoing since the s to determine what the proportion of 14 C in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years. The resulting data, in the form of a calibration curve, is now used to convert a given measurement of radiocarbon in a sample into an estimate of the sample's calendar age. Other must be made to account for the proportion of 14 C in different types of organisms fractionationand the varying levels of 14 C throughout the biosphere reservoir effects.
Additional complications come from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, and from the above-ground nuclear tests done in the s and s. Because the time it takes to convert biological materials to fossil fuels is substantially longer than the time it takes for its 14 C to decay below detectable levels, fossil fuels contain almost no 14 Cand as a result there a noticeable drop in the proportion of 14 C in the atmosphere beginning in the late 19th century.
Conversely, nuclear testing increased the amount of 14 C in the atmosphere, which attained a maximum in about of almost twice what it had been before the testing began. Measurement of radiocarbon was originally done by beta-counting devices, counted the amount of radiation emitted by decaying 14 C atoms in a sample.
More recently, accelerator mass spectrometry has become the method of choice; it counts all the 14 C atoms in the sample and not just the Carbon dating junk science that happen to decay during the measurements; it can therefore be used with much smaller samples as small as individual plant seedsand gives results much more quickly.
The of radiocarbon dating Carbon dating junk science had a profound impact on archaeology. In addition to permitting more accurate dating within archaeological sites than previous methods, it allows comparison of dates of events across distances.
Histories of archaeology often refer to
Carbon dating junk science impact as the "radiocarbon revolution". Radiocarbon dating has allowed key transitions in prehistory to be dated, such as the end of the last ice ageand the beginning of the Neolithic and Bronze Age in different regions.
InMartin Kamen and Samuel Ruben of the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley began experiments to determine if any of the elements common in organic matter had isotopes with half-lives long enough to be of Carbon dating junk science in biomedical research. They synthesized 14 C using the laboratory's cyclotron accelerator and soon discovered that the atom's half-life was far
Carbon dating junk science than had been previously thought.
Korffthen employed at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphiathat interaction of thermal neutrons with 14 N in the upper atmosphere would create 14 C. InLibby moved to the University of Chicago where he began his work on radiocarbon dating.
He published a paper in in which he proposed that the carbon in living matter might include 14 C as well as non-radioactive carbon. By contrast, methane created from petroleum showed no radiocarbon activity because of its age. The results were summarized in a paper in Science inin which the authors commented that their results implied it would be possible to date materials containing carbon of organic origin.
Carbon dating junk science James proceeded to test the radiocarbon dating theory by analyzing samples with known ages. For example, two samples taken from the tombs of two Egyptian kings, Zoser and Sneferuindependently dated to BC plus or minus 75 years, were dated by radiocarbon measurement to an average of BC plus Carbon dating junk science minus years.
These results were published in Science in In nature, carbon exists as two stable, nonradioactive isotopes: The half-life of 14 C the time it takes for half of a given amount of 14 C to decay is about 5, years, so its concentration in the atmosphere might be expected to reduce over thousands of years, but Carbon dating junk science C is constantly being produced in the lower stratosphere and upper troposphereprimarily by galactic cosmic raysand to a lesser degree by solar cosmic rays.
Once produced, the 14 C quickly with the oxygen in the atmosphere to form first carbon monoxide CO and ultimately carbon dioxide CO 2. Carbon dioxide produced in this way diffuses in the atmosphere, is dissolved in the ocean, and is taken up by plants via photosynthesis. Animals eat the plants, and ultimately the radiocarbon is distributed throughout the biosphere. The ratio of 14 C to 12 C is approximately 1. The equation for the radioactive Carbon dating junk science of 14 C is: During its life, a plant or animal is in equilibrium with its surroundings by exchanging carbon either with the atmosphere, or its diet.
It will therefore have the same proportion of 14 C as the atmosphere, or in the case of marine animals or plants, with the ocean. Once it dies, it ceases to acquire 14 Cbut the 14 C within its biological material at that time will continue to decay, and so the ratio of 14 C to 12 C in its remains will gradually decrease. The equation governing the decay of a radioactive isotope is: Measurement of Nthe number of 14 C atoms currently in the Carbon dating junk science, allows the calculation of tthe age of the sample, using the
The above calculations make several assumptions, such as that the level of 14 C in the atmosphere has remained constant over time. The calculations involve several steps and include an intermediate value called the "radiocarbon age", which is the age in "radiocarbon years" of the sample: Calculating Carbon dating junk science ages also requires the value of the half-life for 14 C.
Radiocarbon ages are still Carbon dating junk science using this half-life, and are known as "Conventional Radiocarbon Age". Since the calibration curve IntCal also reports past atmospheric 14 C concentration using this conventional age, any conventional ages calibrated against the IntCal curve will produce a correct calibrated age. When a date is quoted, the reader should be aware that if it is an uncalibrated date a term used for dates given in radiocarbon years it may differ substantially from the best estimate of the actual calendar date, both because it uses the wrong value for the half-life of 14 Cand because no correction calibration has been applied for the historical variation of 14 C in the atmosphere over time.
Carbon is distributed throughout the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the oceans; these are referred to collectively
Carbon dating junk science the carbon exchange reservoir,  and
Carbon dating junk science component is also referred to individually as a carbon exchange reservoir. The Carbon dating junk science elements of the carbon exchange reservoir vary in how much carbon they store, and in how long it takes for the 14 C generated by cosmic rays to fully mix with them.
This affects the ratio of 14 C to 12 C in the different reservoirs, and hence the radiocarbon ages of samples that Carbon dating junk science in each reservoir.
There Carbon dating junk science several other possible sources of error that need to Carbon dating junk science considered. The errors are of four
Carbon dating junk science types:. To verify the accuracy of method, several artefacts that were datable Carbon dating junk science other techniques were tested; the results of the testing were in reasonable agreement with the true ages of the objects.
Over time, however, discrepancies began to appear between the
Carbon dating junk science chronology for the oldest Egyptian dynasties and the radiocarbon dates of Egyptian artefacts.
The question was resolved by the study of tree rings: Coal and oil began to be Carbon dating junk science in large quantities during the 19th century. Dating an object from the early 20th century hence gives an apparent date older than the true date. For the same reason, 14 C concentrations in the neighbourhood of large cities are lower than the atmospheric average. This fossil fuel effect also known as the Suess effect, after Hans Suess, who first reported it in would only amount to a reduction of 0.
A much larger effect comes from above-ground nuclear testing, which released large numbers of neutrons and created 14 C. From about untilwhen atmospheric nuclear testing was banned, it is estimated that several tonnes of 14 C were created. The level has since dropped, as this bomb pulse or "bomb carbon" as it is sometimes percolates into the rest of the reservoir. Photosynthesis is the primary process by which carbon moves from the atmosphere into living Carbon dating junk science. Carbon dating junk science photosynthetic pathways 12 C is absorbed slightly more easily than 13 Cwhich in turn is more easily absorbed than 14 C.
This effect is known as isotopic fractionation. At higher temperatures, CO 2 has poor solubility in water, which means there is less CO 2 available for the photosynthetic reactions.
Carbon dating junk science enrichment of bone 13 C also implies that excreted material is depleted in 13 C relative to the diet. The carbon exchange between atmospheric CO 2 and carbonate at the ocean surface is also subject to fractionation, with 14 C in the atmosphere more likely than 12 C to dissolve in the This increase in 14 C concentration
Carbon dating junk science exactly cancels out the decrease caused by the upwelling of water containing old, and hence 14 C depleted, carbon from the deep ocean, so that direct measurements of 14 C radiation are similar to measurements for the rest of the biosphere.
Correcting for isotopic fractionation, as is done for all radiocarbon dates to allow comparison between results from different parts of the biosphere, gives an apparent age of about years for ocean surface water.
The CO 2 in the atmosphere transfers the ocean by dissolving in the surface water as carbonate and bicarbonate ions; at the same time the carbonate ions in the water are returning to the air as CO 2. The deepest parts of the ocean mix very slowly with the surface waters, and the mixing is uneven. The main mechanism that brings deep water to the surface is upwelling, which is more common in regions closer to the equator.
Upwelling is also influenced by factors such as the topography of the local ocean bottom
Carbon dating junk science coastlines, the climate, and wind patterns. Overall, the mixing of deep and surface waters takes far longer than the mixing of atmospheric CO 2 with the surface waters, and as a result water from some deep ocean areas has an apparent radiocarbon age Carbon dating junk science several thousand years.
Upwelling mixes this "old" water with the surface water, giving the surface water an apparent age of about several hundred years Carbon dating junk science correcting for fractionation. The northern and Carbon dating junk science hemispheres have atmospheric circulation systems that are sufficiently independent of each other that there is noticeable time lag in mixing between the two. Since the surface ocean is depleted in 14 C because of the marine effect, 14 C is removed from the southern atmosphere more quickly than in the north.
For example, rivers that pass over limestonewhich is mostly composed of calcium
Carbon dating junk sciencewill acquire carbonate ions. Similarly, groundwater can contain carbon derived from the rocks through which it has passed.
Volcanic eruptions eject large amounts of carbon into the air. Dormant volcanoes can also emit aged carbon. Any Carbon dating junk science of carbon to a sample of a different age will cause the measured date to be inaccurate.
Contamination with modern carbon Carbon dating junk science a sample to appear to be younger than it really is: Samples for dating need to be converted into a form suitable for measuring the
Carbon dating junk
Carbon dating junk science C content; this can Carbon dating junk science conversion to gaseous, liquid, or solid form, depending on the measurement technique to be used.
Before Carbon dating junk science can be done, the sample must be treated to remove any contamination and any unwanted constituents.
Particularly for older samples, it may be useful to enrich the amount of 14 C in the sample before testing. This can be done with a thermal diffusion column. Once contamination has been removed, samples must be converted to a form suitable for the measuring technology be used.
For accelerator mass spectrometrysolid
Carbon dating junk science targets are the most common, although gaseous CO 2 can also be used. The quantity of material needed for testing depends on the type and the technology being used.
Carbon dating junk science types of testing technology: For beta counters, a sample weighing Carbon dating junk science least 10 grams For decades after Libby performed the first radiocarbon dating experiments, the only way to measure the 14 C in a sample was to detect the radioactive decay of Carbon dating junk science carbon atoms.
Libby's first detector was a Geiger counter of his own design. He converted the carbon in his sample to lamp black soot and coated the inner surface of Carbon dating junk science cylinder with it.
This cylinder was inserted into the counter in such a way that
Carbon dating junk science counting wire was inside the sample cylinder, in order that there should be no material between the sample and the wire.
Carbon dating junk science method was soon superseded by Carbon dating Carbon dating junk science science proportional counterswhich were less affected by bomb carbon the additional 14 C created by nuclear weapons testing.
These counters record bursts of Carbon dating junk science caused by the beta particles emitted by the decaying 14 C atoms; the bursts are proportional to the energy of the particle, so other sources of ionization, such as background Carbon dating junk science, can be identified and ignored.