Carbon Dating: The Key to Unlocking the Past
Have you ever seen, or perhaps own, a valuable artifact and wondered how old it was? Guesses may be thrown. However, due to the advancement in technology, there has been an accurate way for mankind to know how old a particular artifact is and it is through carbon dating.
Carbon 14 is a radioactive isotope of the element carbon. It is a substance produced by the radiation from the sun in the upper atmosphere. Subsequently, trees and plants assimilate carbon dioxide from carbon present in the air. And with this, a fraction of the trees and plants' carbon is C14 (Carbon 14). This also holds true for any individual and living things that consumes the plants as well. The amount of C14 in any creature can be widely measured today.
For example, supposing that one creature dies, and consequently the body was preserved. The C14 go through a radioactive decay. 5730 years later, half of the body will be gone and slowly all of the body will be gone eventually. So if the body was to be found, the quantity of C14 content within the preserve can accurately tell us how long it lived.
Carbon dating can even be applicable for things that were known to be alive even in the last tens of thousands of year. Fortunately due to the modernization in retrieval technology, carbon dating has been more accurate today compared to how it was in the past few decades.
The Origin of Carbon Dating
This technique of telling exactly what time a particular thing or creature has lived was discovered in 1949 by Willard Libby and his colleagues. It was founded at the University of Chicago during Libby's tenure as a professor. Libby approximated the fixed state of radioactivity focus of exchangeable Carbon. 14 was use to represent 14v disintegrations per minute (dpm). Libby was even awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry as recognition of his great work.
One of the principal uses of carbon dating is to point out the date of organic remains from archaeological sites. You see, plants repair carbon in the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis. This would readily mean that the amount of C14 present on both plants and animals equates to the amount of C14 in the atmosphere they lived.
Discovering traces about the past is mainly our lead to unlocking the future. From merely guesses of the yesteryears, we now have a technology called carbon dating that can accurately tell us when and where a particular relic belongs.