Radiometric dating of human fossils

Familiar to us as the black substance in charred wood, as diamonds, and the graphite in “lead” pencils, carbon comes in several forms, or isotopes.One rare form has atoms that are 14 times as heavy as hydrogen atoms: carbon-14, or C ratio gets smaller.However, even with such historical calibration, archaeologists do not regard C produced and therefore dating the system.The amount of cosmic rays reaching the Earth varies with the sun's activity, and with the Earth's passage through magnetic clouds as the solar system travels around the Milky Way galaxy.This is the “half-life.” So, in two half-lives, or 11,460 years, only one-quarter of that in living organisms at present, then it has a theoretical age of 11,460 years.Anything over about 50,000 years old, should theoretically have no detectable C.

The isotope concentrations can be measured very accurately, but isotope concentrations are not dates.Overall, the energy of the Earth's magnetic field has been decreasing,[5] so more C is being produced now than in the past.This will make old things look older than they really are.This also has to be corrected for.[2] Second, the ratio of C in the atmosphere at that time to be estimated, and so partial calibration of the “clock” is possible.Accordingly, carbon dating carefully applied to items from historical times can be useful.

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