Everyone believes in carbon dating

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But what's interesting is as soon as you die and you're not ingesting anymore plants, or breathing from the atmosphere if you are a plant, or fixing from the atmosphere. Once a plant dies, it's no longer taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turning it into new tissue. And this carbon-14 does this decay at a specific rate. And you say, hey, that bone has one half the carbon-14 of all the living things that you see right now.

And then you can use that rate to actually determine how long ago that thing must've died. It would be a pretty reasonable estimate to say, well, that thing must be 5,730 years old.

By 1950, Willard Libby and his group at the University of Chicago had worked out ways to measure this proportion precisely.

Their exquisitely sensitive instrumentation was originally developed for studies in entirely different fields including nuclear physics, biomedicine, and detecting fallout from bomb tests.(1) Much of the initial interest in carbon-14 came from archeology, for the isotope could assign dates to Egyptian mummies and the like.

These had pitfalls, which could lead to controversy.The prodigious mobilization of science that produced nuclear weapons was so far-reaching that it revolutionized even the study of ancient climates.Nuclear laboratories, awash with funds and prestige, spun off the discovery of an amazing new technique — radiocarbon dating.And then after another half life, half of that also turns into a nitrogen-14.And so this would involve two half lives, which is the same thing as 2 times 5,730 years. You'd say this thing is 11,460 years old, give or take.

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