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On the other hand, atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons during the 1950s and 1960s is likely to have increased the Carbon 14 content of the atmosphere.

In fact, research has been conducted which suggests that nuclear tests may have doubled the concentration of C-14 in this time, compared to natural production by cosmic rays. If you’d like more info on Carbon Dating, check out NASA’s Virtual Dating: Isochron and Radiocarbon – Geology Labs On-line, and here’s a link to USGS Radiometric Dating Page.

There is a greater part of man’s unwritten past that archaeology has managed to unravel.

This property makes it especially useful in a process known as “radiocarbon dating”, or carbon dating for short.

Radiocarbon enters the biosphere through natural processes like eating and breathing.

Here on Earth, Carbon is found in the atmosphere, the soil, the oceans, and in every living creature. C-12, so-named because it has an atomic weight of 12 – is the most common isotope, but it is by no means the only one.

Carbon 14 is another, an isotope of carbon that is produced when Nitrogen (N-14) is bombarded by cosmic radiation.

Date of a sample pre-dates the context it is found.

Some samples, like wood, already ceased interacting with the biosphere and have an apparent age at death and linking them to the age of the deposits around the sample would not be wholly accurate.

Nevertheless, it remains the most accurate means of dating the scientific community has discovered so far. We’ve also recorded an entire episode of Astronomy Cast all about How Carbon Dating Works.

Until such time that another method becomes available – and one that produces smaller margins of error – it will remain the method of choice for archeology, paleontology, and other branches of scientific research.

The process of radiocarbon dating starts with the analysis of the carbon 14 left in a sample.

The proportion of carbon 14 in the sample examined provides an indication of the time elapsed since death of the sample’s source.

We have written many articles about Carbon Dating for Universe Today.

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