Carbon 14 decay dating method updating large mirrors

14-Sep-2017 13:58

Nyerup's words illustrate poignantly the critical power and importance of dating; to order time.

Radiocarbon dating has been one of the most significant discoveries in 20th century science.

Libby and his team intially tested the radiocarbon method on samples from prehistoric Egypt.

By comparing this with modern levels of activity (1890 wood corrected for decay to 1950 AD) and using the measured half-life it becomes possible to calculate a date for the death of the sample.There is a quantitative relationship between the decay of 14C and the production of a beta particle. That is, the probability of decay for an atom of 14C in a discrete sample is constant, thereby requiring the application of statistical methods for the analysis of counting data.It follows from this that any material which is composed of carbon may be dated.There is a useful diagrammatic representation of this process given here Libby, Anderson and Arnold (1949) were the first to measure the rate of this decay.

They found that after 5568 years, half the C14 in the original sample will have decayed and after another 5568 years, half of that remaining material will have decayed, and so on (see figure 1 below).As 14C decays it emits a weak beta particle (b ), or electron, which possesses an average energy of 160ke V.