Which isotope is used to perform radiocarbon dating

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In 2008 we could only calibrate radiocarbon dates until 26,000 years.Now the curve extends (tentatively) to 50,000 years.Radioactive decay can be used as a “clock” because it is unaffected by physical (e.g. For instance, the amount varies according to how many cosmic rays reach Earth.This is affected by solar activity and the earth’s magnetic field.Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons.This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.Radiocarbon dates are presented in two ways because of this complication.The uncalibrated date is given with the unit BP (radiocarbon years before 1950).

The method is widely used by Pleistocene geologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and investigators in related fields.

From these records a “calibration curve” can be built (see figure 2, below).

A huge amount of work is currently underway to extend and improve the calibration curve.

Professor Willard Libby produced the first radiocarbon dates in 1949 and was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts.

Radiocarbon dating works by comparing the three different isotopes of carbon.

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