Carbon 14 dating background information

The presence of carbon-14 in the isotopic signature of a sample of carbonaceous material possibly indicates its contamination by biogenic sources or the decay of radioactive material in surrounding geologic strata.

In connection with building the Borexino solar neutrino observatory, petroleum feedstock (for synthesizing the primary scintillant) was obtained with low Since many sources of human food are ultimately derived from terrestrial plants, the carbon that comprises our bodies contains carbon-14 at almost the same concentration as the atmosphere.

This resemblance is used in chemical and biological research, in a technique called carbon labeling: carbon-14 atoms can be used to replace nonradioactive carbon, in order to trace chemical and biochemical reactions involving carbon atoms from any given organic compound.

These are relatively low energies; the maximum distance traveled is estimated to be 22 cm in air and 0.27 mm in body tissue.

Carbon-14 was discovered on February 27, 1940, by Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben at the University of California Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, California.

Its existence had been suggested by Franz Kurie in 1934.

Atmospheric nuclear weapon tests almost doubled the concentration of The above-ground nuclear tests that occurred in several countries between 19 (see nuclear test list) dramatically increased the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere and subsequently in the biosphere; after the tests ended, the atmospheric concentration of the isotope began to decrease, as radioactive CO2 was fixed into plant and animal tissue, and dissolved in the oceans.

Carbon dioxide also dissolves in water and thus permeates the oceans, but at a slower rate.

has been estimated to be roughly 12 to 16 years in the northern hemisphere.

A calculation or (more accurately) a direct comparison of carbon-14 levels in a sample, with tree ring or cave-deposit carbon-14 levels of a known age, then gives the wood or animal sample age-since-formation.

Radiocarbon is also used to detect disturbance in natural ecosystems; for example, in peatland landscapes, radiocarbon can indicate that carbon which was previously stored in organic soils is being released due to land clearance or climate change.

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