The history of radiocarbon dating

By measuring how much carbon-14 still remains in an organic compound, you can calculate how old it is.

This method also works on some inorganic compounds, as long as they also assimilated carbon-14 during their formation.

Because carbon-14 is mildly radioactive, it has a specific half-life (rate of decay).

Bone is also porous, so fluids and microbes can penetrate and destroy the precious collagen over time. German scientists conducted systematic research to identify optimal preservation criteria for bone mineral in archaeological bones.

The impact of the radiocarbon dating technique on modern man has made it one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th century.

No other scientific method has managed to revolutionize man’s understanding not only of his present but also of events that already happened thousands of years ago.

It must be noted though that radiocarbon dating results indicate when the organism was alive but not when a material from that organism was used.

There are three principal techniques used to measure carbon 14 content of any given sample— gas proportional counting, liquid scintillation counting, and accelerator mass spectrometry.

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