Carbon Dating

Topics: Carbon-14, Radiocarbon dating, Carbon Pages: 3 (929 words) Published: May 10, 2012
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Carbon Dating

Carbon dating is the most reliable, commonly used, and useful dating method, for what it can date. It is used to date late Pleistocene and Holocene artifacts and geologic events up to 50,000 years decayed. Carbon dating has been very beneficial to the scientific world, because it is used in so many different fields of science, including archaeology, geology, oceanography, hydrology, atmospheric science, and paleoclimatology. The radiocarbon dating method was developed by Willard F. Libby and a team of scientists at the University of Chicago, in the 1940’s. In 1960 Willard F. Libby received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their scientific achievements and his leadership. The way the method works has to do with Carbon-14 (or Carbon-14), and the amount that is left after a certain amount of decay in a nonliving organism.

All livings things keep up a certain content of Carbon-14 in their equilibrium with what is available in the atmosphere, up until the moment it dies. Once death occurs, the carbon begins to decay. This is a fairly slow process of decay which is why we are able to date things that are so old. The rate at which this decay occurs is at a half life rate of 5,730 years. This means that it takes 5,730 years for one half of the Carbon-14 left in the now dead organism to decay. So when you compare the amount of Carbon-14 in a dead organism, with available levels in the atmosphere, you are able to make an estimate of when the organism had died. But because of the rate of decay, when all of the Carbon-14 is decayed, in about 50,000 years, it is no longer able to be carbon dated. An example of how this is used, is to date remains of home (meaning the wood that was used to build them). By dating the wood, you would know when the tree had stopped living (meaning when it was cut down). This is useful because this is likely around the time when the structure was built, so scientists are able to tell about how long ago...
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