How are half life and radiocarbon dating used by scientists
No other scientific method has managed to revolutionize man’s understanding not only of his present but also of events that already happened thousands of years ago.Archaeology and other human sciences use radiocarbon dating to prove or disprove theories.By knowing how much carbon 14 is left in a sample, the age of the organism when it died can be known.It must be noted though that radiocarbon dating results indicate when the organism was alive but not when a material from that organism was used.Standard errors are also reported in a radiocarbon dating result, hence the “±” values.
Background samples analyzed are usually geological in origin of infinite age such as coal, lignite, and limestone.There are three principal techniques used to measure carbon 14 content of any given sample— gas proportional counting, liquid scintillation counting, and accelerator mass spectrometry.Gas proportional counting is a conventional radiometric dating technique that counts the beta particles emitted by a given sample. In this method, the carbon sample is first converted to carbon dioxide gas before measurement in gas proportional counters takes place.Over the years, carbon 14 dating has also found applications in geology, hydrology, geophysics, atmospheric science, oceanography, paleoclimatology and even biomedicine.Radiocarbon, or carbon 14, is an isotope of the element carbon that is unstable and weakly radioactive. Carbon 14 is continually being formed in the upper atmosphere by the effect of cosmic ray neutrons on nitrogen 14 atoms.