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5 uses of carbon dating

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After incorporating radioactive atoms into reactant molecules, scientists can track where the atoms go by following their radioactivity.One excellent example of this is the use of radioactive carbon-14 to determine the steps involved in the photosynthesis in plants.The two main techniques are Thermal Neutron Capture (TNC) and Neutron Inelastic Scattering (NIS).TNC occurs immediately after a low-energy neutron is absorbed by a nucleus, NIS takes place instantly when a fast neutron collides with a nucleus.It also has some applications in geology; its importance in dating organic materials cannot be underestimated enough.In 1979, Desmond Clark said of the method “we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation” (3).Radioactive isotopes have a variety of applications.Generally, however, they are useful either because we can detect their radioactivity or we can use the energy they release.

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The continuous analysis and rapid response of nuclear techniques, many involving radioisotopes, mean that reliable flow and analytic data can be constantly available.The rate at which a radioactive isotope decays is measured in half-life.The term half-life is defined as the time it takes for one-half of the atoms of a radioactive material to disintegrate.Radiocarbon dating may only be used on organic materials.Typically (6): The above list is not exhaustive; most organic material is suitable so long as it is of sufficient age and has not mineralised - dinosaur bones are out as they no longer have any carbon left.Most commercial analysers use californium-252 neutron sources together with sodium iodide detectors and are mainly sensitive to TNC reactions.