Modern accelerator mass spectrometry (used for radiocarbon dating purposes to separate radiocarbon atoms from stable carbon atoms and count them) is quite precise.
The technology involved is fascinating and impressive.
"If we know the half-life of a sample, we can calculate the age of that sample."By calculating a sample's age, scientists can determine how long ago major events like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and glacial movements took place."We've recently had some samples sent here from India that showed a major earthquake happened 30,000 years ago," said Sharma.
Other work includes measuring the age of rocks deposited by glaciers.
Plants take in carbon-14 through the process of photosynthesis.
Photo courtesy of University News Service DATING MACHINE: Purdue scientists can determine how long ago earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and glacial movements took place using the Rare Isotope Measurement Laboratory.
Topics covered include dating by use of Carbon 14, thermoluminescence, tree rings, and fission tracks, and surface exposure dating by use of cosmogenic nuclides.
They want to know if it is accurate or if it works at all.They all start with similar flaws, but Carbon-14 has more than the rest.The Carbon-14 dating method was introduced by Dr. Libby (1908-1980) at the University of Chicago in 1949. Carbon-12 is the normal stable isotope of Carbon (99% of all Carbon), which is the basic building block of organic life forms.The rate of decay is often referred to as the activity of the isotope and is often measured in Curies (Ci), one curie = 3.700 x 10" is the initial amount of radioisotope at the beginning of the period, and "k" is the rate constant for the radioisotope being studied.In this equation, the units of measure for N and No can be in grams, atoms, or moles."We measure the rate of decay of certain rare isotopes," said Pankaj Sharma, a research scientist in the physics department.An isotope, such as Carbon 14, is a form of an atom with a different atomic structure than the element normally does."An element such as carbon has a half-life of 5,730 years," said Sharma.He claimed that it was capable of dating animal, plant and human remains of fairly recent origin. As they say on Star Trek, we are all carbon based units.Laboratory research has shown that the radioactive decay of Carbon-14 occurs in a half-life of 5,73040 years through beta decay that causes the Carbon-14 to revert back to Nitrogen-14.An introduction to age determination techniques used in archaeology and the earth sciences.Various techniques currently in use, and their impact on our understanding of the past, will be described qualitatively.