Define the term carbon dating

define the term carbon dating - The definition of radiocarbon years is as follows: the age is calculated by using the following standards: a) using the libby half-life of 5568 years, rather than the currently accepted actual half-life of 5730 years; (b) the use of an nist standard known as hoxii to define the activity of radiocarbon in 1950; (c) the use of 1950 as the date from which years "before present" are counted; (d) a correction for fractionation, based on a standard isotope ratio, and (e) the assumption that the 14c/12c ratio has not changed over time. Carbon-dating the wood from the tree rings themselves provides the check needed on the atmospheric 14c/12c ratio: with a sample of known date, and a measurement of the value of n (the number of atoms of 14c remaining in the sample), the carbon-dating equation allows the calculation of n0 – the number of atoms of 14c in the sample at the time the tree ring was formed – and hence the 14c/12c ratio in the atmosphere at that time. When a date is quoted, the reader should be aware that if it is an uncalibrated date (a term used for dates given in radiocarbon years) it may differ substantially from the best estimate of the actual calendar date, both because it uses the wrong value for the half-life of 14c, and because no correction (calibration) has been applied for the historical variation of 14c in the atmosphere over time. [74] the wiggles also mean that reading a date from a calibration curve can give more than one answer: this occurs when the curve wiggles up and down enough that the radiocarbon age intercepts the curve in more than one place, which may lead to a radiocarbon result being reported as two separate age ranges, corresponding to the two parts of the curve that the radiocarbon age intercepted.

How Carbon Dating Works

In the movies, scientists use “carbon dating” to determine the age of ancient artifacts and dinosaur bones. But what is the real ...