Radiocarbon dating lab theme from the dating game

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Radiocarbon dating was invented in the 1950s by the American chemist Willard F.

Libby and a few of his students at the University of Chicago: in 1960, he won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention.

All living things exchange the gas Carbon 14 (C14) with the atmosphere around them—animals and plants exchange Carbon 14 with the atmosphere, fish and corals exchange carbon with dissolved C14 in the water.

Throughout the life of an animal or plant, the amount of C14 is perfectly balanced with that of its surroundings. The C14 in a dead organism slowly decays at a known rate: its "half life".

It also has some applications in geology; its importance in dating organic materials cannot be underestimated enough.

In 1979, Desmond Clark said of the method “we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation” (3).

It was the first absolute scientific method ever invented: that is to say, the technique was the first to allow a researcher to determine how long ago an organic object died, whether it is in context or not.

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today is higher than that at any time in the last 420,000 years (figure 1).date of organic material - but an approximate age, usually within a range of a few years either way.The other method is “Relative Dating” which gives an order of events without giving an exact age (1): typically artefact typology or the study of the sequence of the evolution of fossils.The half-life of an isotope like C14 is the time it takes for half of it to decay away: in C14, every 5,730 years, half of it is gone.So, if you measure the amount of C14 in a dead organism, you can figure out how long ago it stopped exchanging carbon with its atmosphere.

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