A level physics carbon dating

An age could be estimated by measuring the amount of carbon-14 present in the sample and comparing this against an internationally used reference standard.

The impact of the radiocarbon dating technique on modern man has made it one of the most significant discoveries of the 20th century.

Standard errors are also reported in a radiocarbon dating result, hence the “±” values.

These values have been derived through statistical means.

Over the years, carbon 14 dating has also found applications in geology, hydrology, geophysics, atmospheric science, oceanography, paleoclimatology and even biomedicine.

Radiocarbon, or carbon 14, is an isotope of the element carbon that is unstable and weakly radioactive. Carbon 14 is continually being formed in the upper atmosphere by the effect of cosmic ray neutrons on nitrogen 14 atoms.

The CRA conventions include (a) usage of the Libby half-life, (b) usage of Oxalic Acid I or II or any appropriate secondary standard as the modern radiocarbon standard, (c) correction for sample isotopic fractionation to a normalized or base value of -25.0 per mille relative to the ratio of carbon 12/carbon 13 in the carbonate standard VPDB – Cretaceous belemnite formation at Peedee in South Carolina, (d) zero BP (Before Present) is defined as AD 1950, and (e) the assumption that global radiocarbon levels are constant.

Background radiocarbon activity is measured, and the values obtained are deducted from the sample’s radiocarbon dating results.

Background samples analyzed are usually geological in origin of infinite age such as coal, lignite, and limestone.

This is a Physics A-level resource from flippedaroundphysics.com, covering carbon dating. The worksheet leads students through the topic in small, manageable steps.

In a flipped classroom, students would complete this task as a homework, prior to a lesson on the topic.

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