When a plant or animal dies it stops taking in carbon-14 and radioactive decay begins to decrease the amount of carbon-14 in the tissues.The age of the plant or animal specimen containing carbon, such as wood, bones, plant remains, is determined by measuring the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14. Because of this relatively short half-life, carbon-14 can only be used to date specimens up to about 45,000 years old.Renfrew (1973) called it 'the radiocarbon revolution' in describing its impact upon the human sciences.
The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.Libby of the University of Chicago in immediate post-WW2 years.What methods do they use and how do these methods work?In this article, we will examine the methods by which scientists use radioactivity to determine the age of objects, most notably carbon-14 dating.A child mummy is found high in the Andes and the archaeologist says the child lived more than 2,000 years ago.
How do scientists know how old an object or human remains are?
Nyerup's words illustrate poignantly the critical power and importance of dating; to order time.
Radiocarbon dating has been one of the most significant discoveries in 20th century science.
This inconsistent amount of carbon-14 renders the test less accurate but opens up testing possibilities not available for older samples.
For example, it is possible to determine the age of a person born after the 1940s using the carbon-14 content of teeth.
Continue Reading Carbon dating works by comparing the amount of carbon-14 in a sample to the amount of carbon-12.