Recent radiocarbon dating

Forensic anthropologists at The University of Arizona took advantage of this fact in a recent study funded by NIJ.

Over the past six decades, the amount of radiocarbon in people or their remains depends heavily on when they were born or, more precisely, when their tissues were formed.In recent years, forensic scientists have started to apply carbon-14 dating to cases in which law enforcement agencies hope to find out the age of a skeleton or other unidentified human remains.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.The dating process is always designed to try to extract the carbon from a sample which is most representative of the original organism.In general it is always better to date a properly identified single entity (such as a cereal grain or an identified bone) rather than a mixture of unidentified organic remains.

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Common materials for radiocarbon dating are: The radiocarbon formed in the upper atmosphere is mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. Because the carbon present in a plant comes from the atmosphere in this way, the radio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in the plant is virtually the same as that in the atmosphere.

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