Radiocarbon Dating - Ian Tierson 4/9/2008 Dr. Karim Radio...

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Ian Tierson 5/7/2009 Dr. Karim Radio Carbon Dating Essay For many years now, humanity has been interested in its past. We are intrigued by what happened many years ago, and we have devoted many resources to the field of archaeology to discover the truth. However, until the 1950’s we had no accurate way of knowing when the stuff we found buried was from. When Libby discovered that we could use the elements within an item to figure out how old it was, archaeology was revolutionized. Radiocarbon dating utilizes the radioactivity of naturally occurring materials in a specimen to determine how long it had been dead. Carbon 14 is prevalent throughout the atmosphere and is present in all living things on earth. When living things take in air, they also take in carbon 14, which is radioactive. They expel 14 C at the same rate as they intake it. Therefore, when a living thing dies, it stops gaining and losing 14 C and maintains a constant ratio of 14 C to 12 C. The half-life if 14 C is approximately
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5730 years. Since the normal ratio of 14 C to 12 C is known, if we measure the amount of 14 C in a specimen and compare it to what it would be today, we could figure out how much it has decayed and we can determine how long ago it
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This essay was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course PHYS 113 taught by Professor Karim during the Fall '06 term at St. John Fisher College.

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Radiocarbon Dating - Ian Tierson 4/9/2008 Dr. Karim Radio...

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