Carbon 14 dating debate

Ionization Inverse Square Law Interaction of RT/Matter Attenuation Coefficient Half-Value Layer Sources of Attenuation -Compton Scattering Geometric Unsharpness Filters in Radiography Scatter/Radiation Control Radiation Safety Radio-carbon dating is a method of obtaining age estimates on organic materials.

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Radiocarbon, or carbon 14, is an isotope of the element carbon that is unstable and weakly radioactive. Carbon 14 is continually being formed in the upper atmosphere by the effect of cosmic ray neutrons on nitrogen 14 atoms.

It is rapidly oxidized in air to form carbon dioxide and enters the global carbon cycle.

High in the atmosphere, cosmic rays strike nitrogen atoms, producing a radioactive carbon isotope known as carbon-14 (or .

Carbon-14, along with the more common, stable (nonradioactive) carbon isotopes carbon-12 and carbon-13, combine with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide.

American physical chemist Willard Libby led a team of scientists in the post World War II era to develop a method that measures radiocarbon activity.

He is credited to be the first scientist to suggest that the unstable carbon isotope called radiocarbon or carbon 14 might exist in living matter. Libby and his team of scientists were able to publish a paper summarizing the first detection of radiocarbon in an organic sample. Libby who first measured radiocarbon’s rate of decay and established 5568 years ± 30 years as the half-life. Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in recognition of his efforts to develop radiocarbon dating.

Radiocarbon dating estimates can be obtained on wood, charcoal, marine and freshwater shells, bone and antler, and peat and organic-bearing sediments.

They can also be obtained from carbonate deposits such as tufa, calcite, marl, dissolved carbon dioxide, and carbonates in ocean, lake and groundwater sources.

The impact of the radiocarbon dating technique on modern man has made it one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th century.

No other scientific method has managed to revolutionize man’s understanding not only of his present but also of events that already happened thousands of years ago.

As is often the case, the controversy over this topic is at least as interesting as the topic itself.

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