However, it is also used to determine ages of rocks, plants, trees, etc. When the sun’s rays reach them, a few of these particles turn into carbon 14 (a radioactive carbon).
The highest rate of carbon-14 production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km (30,000 to 50,000 ft).
For the most accurate work, variations are compensated by means of calibration curves.
The method was developed by Willard Libby and his colleagues at the University of Chicago in 1949.
Imagine going for a hike in the mountains and finding a 5,000-year-old body frozen in a block of ice!
Carbon dioxide also permeates the oceans, dissolving in the water.
In 1960, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work.
He first demonstrated the accuracy of radiocarbon dating by accurately estimating the age of wood from an ancient Egyptian royal barge of which the age was known from historical documents.
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