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Posted by / 27-Jul-2017 20:25

In the context of carbon-14 dating, this departure from the present-day level means that samples with a true age of 8,200 years would be dated by radiocarbon as 7,500 years old.

The problems stemming from temporal variations can be overcome to a large degree by the use of calibration curves in which the carbon-14 content of the sample being dated is plotted against that of objects of known age.

With correction for radioactive decay during the intervening years, such old samples hopefully would show the same starting carbon-14 level as exists today. His conclusion was that over the past 5,000 years the carbon-14 level in living materials has remained constant within the 5 percent precision of measurement.

A dating method was thus available, subject only to confirmation by actual application to specific chronologic problems.

The occurrence of natural radioactive carbon in the atmosphere provides a unique opportunity to date organic materials as old as roughly 60,000 years.

Unlike most isotopic dating methods, the conventional carbon-14 dating technique is not based on counting daughter isotopes.

In this way, the deviations can be compensated for and the carbon-14 age of the sample converted to a much more precise date.

A final problem of importance in carbon-14 dating is the matter of sample contamination.Newly created carbon-14 atoms were presumed to react with atmospheric oxygen to form ) molecules.Radioactive carbon thus was visualized as gaining entrance wherever atmospheric carbon dioxide enters—into land plants by photosynthesis, into animals that feed on the plants, into marine and fresh waters as a dissolved component, and from there into aquatic plants and animals.And, if so, has today’s uniform level prevailed throughout the recent past?After showing the essential uniformity of carbon-14 in living material, Libby sought to answer the second question by measuring the radiocarbon level in organic samples dated historically—materials as old as 5,000 years from sources such as Egyptian tombs.

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In addition to spatial variations of the carbon-14 level, the question of temporal variation has received much study.