A4M Redefining Medicine: Dr. A4MPresents: Dr. If wisdom comes with age, then brain cells are some of the wisest in the body: researchers have applied carbon dating to DNA to confirm that cells in the brain live longer than most others. This is a new application for the technique, which is traditionally used in archaeology and palaeoanthropology to pinpoint the age of fossils. Carbon dating looks at the ratio of radioactive carbon, which is naturally present at low levels in the atmosphere and food, to normal carbon within an organism. While a creature lives, eats and breathes, its ratio of radioactive to normal carbon will equal that of its environment.
Carbon dating provides insight into nature of fat cells
BioMath: Carbon Dating
When mushroom clouds exploded in the sky during Cold War-era nuclear bombs testing, they also created an unexpected boon for science. The nuclear explosions caused a massive uptick in Carbon that eventually settled in all living tissue—everything from tree rings to elephant tusks to human brain cells. As such, this spike in Carbon has helped scientists date trees, find ivory poachers, and upend a decades-old dogma that new brain cells cannot be regenerated in the human brain. The catch is that the Carbon released before the aboveground nuclear testing ban in is slowly fading to background levels. There's plenty of research yet to be done—but they only have until
The bomb pulse is the sudden increase of carbon 14 C in the Earth's atmosphere due to the hundreds of aboveground nuclear bombs tests that started in and intensified between until , when the Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed by the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. Carbon, the radioisotope of carbon, is naturally developed in trace amounts in the atmosphere and it can be detected in all living organisms. Carbon of all types is continually used to form the molecules of the cells of organisms. Doubling of the concentration of 14 C in the atmosphere is reflected in the tissues and cells of all organisms that lived around the period of nuclear testing.
Image: UPI Telephoto. Between and , the use of atomic bombs doubled the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. Carbon exists in the air, and plants breathe it in during photosynthesis. Every eleven years, the amount of that carbon in the atmosphere would decrease by half. By measuring how much carbon someone has in various tissues of the body, researchers can actually get an understanding of when those tissues were formed.