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Posted by / 07-Sep-2015 05:23

Carbon 14 for dating objects

There are eight AMS laboratories currently operating in the Unites States.In Arizona, virtually all dating is performed by the Arizona Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Laboratory at the University of Arizona in Tucson.In the case of radiocarbon dating, the half-life of carbon 14 is 5,730 years.This half life is a relatively small number, which means that carbon 14 dating is not particularly helpful for very recent deaths and deaths more than 50,000 years ago.This dramatically improves accuracy, and reduces the amount of carbon required from about 10 grams to only a few milligrams.In recent years, dating methods based on cosmogenic isotopes other than carbon (such as beryllium-10 and chlorine-36) have been developed, which allow for the dating of a wider variety of objects over much longer time scales.Carbon has an atomic number of 6, an atomic weight of 12.011, and has three isotopes: carbon-12, carbon-13, and carbon-14.(The numbers 12, 13 and 14 refer to the total number of protons plus neutrons in the atom's nucleus.

If the amount of carbon 14 is halved every 5,730 years, it will not take very long to reach an amount that is too small to analyze.Carbon is naturally in all living organisms and is replenished in the tissues by eating other organisms or by breathing air that contains carbon.At any particular time all living organisms have approximately the same ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14 in their tissues.Archaeologists use the exponential, radioactive decay of carbon 14 to estimate the death dates of organic material.The stable form of carbon is carbon 12 and the radioactive isotope carbon 14 decays over time into nitrogen 14 and other particles.

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