Videos on radiocarbon dating

That enables us to basically figure out how much C-14 is in the sample, and it also enables us to monitor our own fluctuating levels of C-14 contamination, or what we call ‘memory effect’ in the lines in the lab, and develop a database of how those ages vary.

videos on radiocarbon dating-38

Point of interest Why can carbon-14 dating be used to track the age of modern wines but not wines 100-200 years old?

DR FIONA PETCHEY We use several different sorts of standards.

The two most common are a modern standard, which is called ANU Sucrose, and we know exactly the age of that standard.

The other standard we use is a background standard that is beyond the limits of radio carbon, so beyond 60,000 years old, and those two standards are always measured at the same time as an unknown or commercial sample that we don’t know the age of.

As well as the sample to be dated, two other standard samples are also analysed – one a modern sample and the other older than 60,000 years with virtually no carbon-14 activity remaining.

By doing this, a check can be made on the accuracy of their testing method.

The older a sample is, the less (the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed) is about 5,730 years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50,000 years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples.

The idea behind radiocarbon dating is straightforward, but years of work were required to develop the technique to the point where accurate dates could be obtained.

Few people who claim that radiometric dating proves the earth is billions of years old really understand the underlying assumptions. Snelling examines these assumptions and equips viewers with information to counter the anti-biblical arguments.

In this video, Dr Fiona Petchey, from the Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Unit based at the University of Waikato, explains the use of standards in the carbon-14 dating process.

When we report a radio carbon age, we report a date that says something like 400 years plus or minus 40 years.

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