It is an essential technology that is heavily involved in archaeology and should be explored in greater depth. Radiocarbon dating uses the naturally occurring isotope Carbon to approximate the age of organic materials. Often, archaeologists use graves and plant remains to date sites. Since its conception by Willard Libby in , it has been invaluable to the discipline. In fact, many important archaeological artifacts have been dated using this method including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Shroud of Turin.
How Does Radiocarbon-14 Dating Work?
Explainer: what is radiocarbon dating and how does it work?
For decades, radiocarbon dating has been a way for scientists to get a rough picture of when once-living stuff lived. The method has been revolutionary and remains one of the most commonly used dating methods to study the past. Charlotte Pearson says it's ready for a makeover. Pearson, an assistant professor of dendrochronology at the University of Arizona, studies the past lives of trees to better understand the history of civilizations. Dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating have intertwined histories, she explains, with roots firmly planted at the UA. Douglass was a polymath. In addition to his work as an astronomer at the UA's Steward Observatory, Douglass was the first to discover that tree rings record time.
This is how carbon dating works: Carbon is a naturally abundant element found in the atmosphere, in the earth, in the oceans, and in every living creature. C is by far the most common isotope, while only about one in a trillion carbon atoms is C C is produced in the upper atmosphere when nitrogen N is altered through the effects of cosmic radiation bombardment a proton is displaced by a neutron effectively changing the nitrogen atom into a carbon isotope. The new isotope is called "radiocarbon" because it is radioactive, though it is not dangerous. It is naturally unstable and so it will spontaneously decay back into N after a period of time.
Radiocarbon dating is the most common technique used in ascertaining the age of archaeological and paleontological sites during the last 45, years. Developed by a chemist born in Colorado, there are now commercial and academic laboratories across the globe that conduct radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating has made a substantive contribution to our understanding of Colorado prehistory by allowing archaeologists to place excavated sites in chronological order and allowing comparison of contemporary archaeological cultures. While Willard Libby received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in for his contributions to the development of the radiocarbon dating method, the process that led to the discovery of this method began much earlier. It had been shown that 14 C is continually being produced by cosmic rays colliding with atmospheric nitrogen.