Radiocarbon dating problem solving

The relative dating method worked very well, but only in sites which were had a connection to the relative scale. When radiocarbon dating was developed, it revolutionised archaeology, because it enabled them to more confidently date the past, and to build a more accurate picture of the human past.The archaeologist Colin Renfrew (1973) called it the development of this dating method 'the radiocarbon revolution' in describing its great impact upon the human sciences.We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].

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You can work out that after about 50 000 years of time, all the radiocarbon will have gone.

Therefore, radiocarbon dating is not able to date anything older than 60 or 70 000 years old.

The C14 method has been and continues to be applied and used in many, many different fields including hydrology, atmospheric science, oceanography, geology, palaeoclimatology, archaeology and biomedicine.

All plants and animals on Earth are made principally of carbon.

It is called 'radio'-carbon, because it is 'radioactive'.

This means that its atomic structure is not stable and there is an uneasy relationship between the particles in the nucleus of the atom itself.After the war he became very interested in peaceful applications of atomic science.He and two students first measured the "half-life" of radiocarbon.In the 1940s, scientists succeeded in finding out how long it takes for radiocarbon to disappear, or decay, from a sample of carbon from a dead plant or animal.Willard Libby, the principal scientist, had worked in the team making the nuclear bomb during World War 2, so he was an expert in nuclear and atomic chemistry.Carbon follows this pathway through the food chain on Earth so that all living things are using carbon, building their bodies until they die.