How is radiocarbon dating used

In this way, calibration tables have been developed that eliminate the discrepancy.Despite its usefulness, radiocarbon dating has a number of limitations.

It is not uncommon for a cosmic ray to collide with an atom in the atmosphere, creating a secondary cosmic ray in the form of an energetic neutron, and for these energetic neutrons to collide with nitrogen atoms.When the neutron collides, a nitrogen-14 (seven protons, seven neutrons) atom turns into a carbon-14 atom (six protons, eight neutrons) and a hydrogen atom (one proton, zero neutrons).On April 26, 2007 this facility celebrated 25 years of operation, during which time it had processed over 75,000 radiocarbon measurements on objects ranging from the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Shroud of Turin.Their commercial rate (in 2008) is 5.00 per sample, which somewhat limits its accessibility to chronically under-funded archeological research projects.Carbon has an atomic number of 6, an atomic weight of 12.011, and has three isotopes: carbon-12, carbon-13, and carbon-14.

(The numbers 12, 13 and 14 refer to the total number of protons plus neutrons in the atom's nucleus.

The proportion of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in the atmosphere therefore remains relatively stable at about 1.5 parts per billion.

One of the implied assumptions in radiocarbon dating is that levels of atmospheric carbon-14 have remained constant over time.

It cannot be applied to inorganic material such as stone tools or ceramic pottery.

The technique is based on measuring the ratio of two isotopes of carbon.

Radiocarbon dating—also known as carbon-14 dating—is a technique used by archaeologists and historians to determine the age of organic material.