Radiocarbon dating (also referred to as carbon dating or carbon-14 dating) is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon, a radioactive isotope of carbon.
The method was developed in the late 1940s at the University of Chicago by Willard Libby, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960.
These radioactive isotopes are unstable, decaying over time at a predictable rate.
As the isotopes decay, they give off particles from their nucleus and become a different isotope.
Measurement of radiocarbon was originally done by beta-counting devices, which counted the amount of beta radiation emitted by decaying atoms in the sample and not just the few that happen to decay during the measurements; it can therefore be used with much smaller samples (as small as individual plant seeds), and gives results much more quickly.Due to its long half-life, U-235 is the best isotope for radioactive dating, particularly of older fossils and rocks. The half-life of C-14, however, is only 5,730 years.C-14 is another radioactive isotope that decays to C-12. Because of its short half-life, the number of C-14 isotopes in a sample is negligible after about 50,000 years, making it impossible to use for dating older samples. in Earth-Space Science from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.The development of radiocarbon dating has had a profound impact on archaeology.In addition to permitting more accurate dating within archaeological sites than previous methods, it allows comparison of dates of events across great distances.
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