Describe one application of radiocarbon dating
This is affected by solar activity and the earth’s magnetic field.
Luckily, we can measure these fluctuations in samples that are dated by other methods.
The total mass of the isotope is indicated by the numerical superscript.
This is particularly important for very old samples.
If 1% of the carbon in a 50,000 year old sample is from a modern contaminant, the sample will be dated to around 40,000 years.
The calibrated date is our “best estimate” of the sample’s actual age, but we need to be able to return to old dates and recalibrate them because new research is continually used to update the calibration curve.
The second difficulty arises from the extremely low abundance of C, making it incredibly difficult to measure and extremely sensitive to contamination.
A huge amount of work is currently underway to extend and improve the calibration curve.