A form of radiometric dating used to determine the age of organic remains in ancient objects, such as archaeological specimens, on the basis of the half-life of carbon-14 and a comparison between the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in a sample of the remains to the known ratio in living organisms. A technique for measuring the age of organic remains based on the rate of decay of carbon 14.
The carbon 14 present in an organism at the time of its death decays at a steady rate, and so the age of the remains can be calculated from the amount of carbon 14 that is left. The cells of all living things contain carbon atoms that they take in from their environment.
In living organisms, which are always taking in carbon, the levels of carbon 14 likewise stay constant.
But in a dead organism, no new carbon is coming in, and its carbon 14 gradually begins to decay.
In this interactive, learn how radiocarbon dating works, what it takes to determine a date in the lab, and why it's challenging to pinpoint a date precisely.
One of the most frequent uses of radiocarbon dating is to estimate the age of organic remains from archaeological sites.
He is presently employed in the Space & Atmospheric Sciences Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The highest rate of carbon-14 production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km (30,000 to 50,000 ft).
At high geomagnetic latitudes, the carbon-14 spreads evenly throughout the atmosphere and reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.
Wiens has a Ph D in Physics, with a minor in Geology.
His Ph D thesis was on isotope ratios in meteorites, including surface exposure dating.