Is carbon 14 dating accuracy
In the 1940s, scientists succeeded in finding out how long it takes for radiocarbon to disappear, or decay, from a sample of carbon from a dead plant or animal.
Willard Libby, the principal scientist, had worked in the team making the nuclear bomb during World War 2, so he was an expert in nuclear and atomic chemistry.
Rasmus Nyerup's quote reminds us of the tremendous scientific advances which have taken place in the 20th century.
In Nyerup's time, archaeologists could date the past only by using recorded histories, which in Europe were based mainly on the Egyptian calendar.
The job of a radiocarbon laboratory is to measure the remaining amounts of radiocarbon in a carbon sample.
This is very difficult and requires a lot of careful work to produce reliable dates.
After the war he became very interested in peaceful applications of atomic science.
He and two students first measured the "half-life" of radiocarbon.
A tiny part of the carbon on the Earth is called Carbon-14 (C14), or radiocarbon.
Eventually, a particle is emitted from the carbon 14 atom, and carbon 14 disappears.
Most of the carbon on Earth exists in a slightly different atomic form, although it is chemically speaking, identical to all carbon.
The radiocarbon method was developed by a team of scientists led by the late Professor Willard F.
Libby of the University of Chicago after the end of World War 2.
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The relative dating method worked very well, but only in sites which were had a connection to the relative scale. When radiocarbon dating was developed, it revolutionised archaeology, because it enabled them to more confidently date the past, and to build a more accurate picture of the human past.