In radiocarbon dating

Carbon-14 is produced in the upper layers of the troposphere and the stratosphere by thermal neutrons absorbed by nitrogen atoms.When cosmic rays enter the atmosphere, they undergo various transformations, including the production of neutrons.

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Carbon 14 is continually being created in the Earth's atmosphere by the interaction of nitrogen and gamma rays from outer space.

Since atmospheric carbon 14 arises at about the same rate that the atom decays, the Earth's levels of carbon 14 have remained constant.

The resulting neutrons ( but attempts to directly measure the production rate in situ were not very successful.

Production rates vary because of changes to the cosmic ray flux caused by the heliospheric modulation (solar wind and solar magnetic field), and due to variations in the Earth's magnetic field.

Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 ± 40 years—, half the amount of the radioisotope present at any given time will undergo spontaneous disintegration during the succeeding 5,730 years.

Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon.

Its presence in organic materials is the basis of the radiocarbon dating method pioneered by Willard Libby and colleagues (1949) to date archaeological, geological and hydrogeological samples.

Carbon-14 was discovered on February 27, 1940, by Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben at the University of California Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, California.

The carbon-14 method was developed by the American physicist Willard F. It has proved to be a versatile technique of dating fossils and archaeological specimens from 500 to 50,000 years old.

The method is widely used by Pleistocene geologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and investigators in related fields.

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