Does carbon 13 dating work

Since carbon is fundamental to life, occurring along with hydrogen in all organic compounds, the detection of such an isotope might form the basis for a method to establish the age of ancient materials.

Libby, a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago, predicted that a radioactive isotope of carbon, known as carbon-14, would be found to occur in nature.

This is the clock that permits levels of c14 in organic archaeological, geological, and paleontological samples to be converted into an estimate of time.

The measurement of the rate of radioactive decay is known as its half-life, the time it takes for half of a sample to decay.

the field deflects atoms of different masses differently (heavier atoms deflect less).

Modern AMS (accelerator mass spectroscopy) methods require tiny amounts, about 50 mg.

Pre-treatment seeks to remove from the sample any contaminating carbon that could yield an inaccurate date.

Acids may be used to eliminate contaminating carbonates.

Libby calculated the half-life of c14 as 5568 ± 30 years.

This means that half of the c14 has decayed by the time an organism has been dead for 5568 years, and half of the remainder has decayed by 11,136 years after death, etc.

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