A scientist who uses carbon 14 dating is measuring
Carbon-14, or radiocarbon, is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope that forms when cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere strike nitrogen molecules, which then oxidize to become carbon dioxide.Green plants absorb the carbon dioxide, so the population of carbon-14 molecules is continually replenished until the plant dies.They measured carbon-14 levels in various tissues from 36 humans whose birth and death dates were known.To determine year of birth, the researchers focused on tooth enamel.
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The new method is based on the fact that over the past 60 years, environmental levels of radiocarbon have been significantly perturbed by mid-20th-century episodes of above-ground nuclear weapons testing.Forensic anthropologists at The University of Arizona took advantage of this fact in a recent study funded by NIJ.The researchers wanted to find out if they could identify a person's year of birth or year of death using precise measurements of carbon-14 levels in different post-mortem tissues.Though still heavily used, relative dating is now augmented by several modern dating techniques.
Radiocarbon dating involves determining the age of an ancient fossil or specimen by measuring its carbon-14 content.Carbon-14 is also passed onto the animals that eat those plants.
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