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Safety issues of carbon 14 dating

There are two techniques for dating in archaeological sites: relative and absolute dating.Relative dating stems from the idea that something is younger or older relative to something else.Absolute dating represents the absolute age of the sample before the present.

The Mayan calendar used 3114 BC as their reference.

More recently is the radiocarbon date of 1950 AD or before present, BP.

After an organism dies, the radiocarbon decreases through a regular pattern of decay. The time taken for half of the atoms of a radioactive isotope to decay in Carbon-14’s case is about 5730 years.

Half-lives vary according to the isotope, for example, Uranium-238 has a half-life of 4500 million years where as Nitrogen-17 has a half-life of 4.173 seconds!

In a stratigraphical context objects closer to the surface are more recent in time relative to items deeper in the ground.

Although relative dating can work well in certain areas, several problems arise.

Looking at the graph, 100% of radiocarbon in a sample will be reduced to 50% after 5730 years.

In 11,460 years, half of the 50% will remain, or 25%, and so on.

As long as there is organic material present, radiocarbon dating is a universal dating technique that can be applied anywhere in the world.

It is good for dating for the last 50,000 years to about 400 years ago and can create chronologies for areas that previously lacked calendars.

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