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The decay of Carbon $ into stable Nitrogen $ does not take place in a regular, determined fashion: rather it is governed by the laws of probability and statistics formalized in the language of quantum mechanics.As such, the reported half life of 30 \pm 40$ years means that $ years is the standard deviation for the process and so we expect that roughly $ percent of the time half of the Carbon $ in a given sample will decay within the time span of 30 \pm 40$ years.The best way to transfer the exacting techniques was in the heads of the scientists themselves, as they moved to a new job.Tricks also spread through visits between laboratories and at meetings, and sometimes even through publications.This was all the usual sort of laboratory problem-solving, a matter of sorting out difficulties by studying one or another detail systematically for months.More unusual was the need to collaborate with all sorts of people around the world, to gather organic materials for dating.The prodigious mobilization of science that produced nuclear weapons was so far-reaching that it revolutionized even the study of ancient climates.
Their exquisitely sensitive instrumentation was originally developed for studies in entirely different fields including nuclear physics, biomedicine, and detecting fallout from bomb tests.(1) Much of the initial interest in carbon-14 came from archeology, for the isotope could assign dates to Egyptian mummies and the like.After a creature's death the isotope would slowly decay away over millennia at a fixed rate.Thus the less of it that remained in an object, in proportion to normal carbon, the older the object was.Climate science required the invention and mastery of many difficult techniques.
These had pitfalls, which could lead to controversy.
The radioactive isotope carbon-14 is created in the upper atmosphere when cosmic-ray particles from outer space strike nitrogen atoms and transform them into radioactive carbon.