Definition of carbon dating

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From these records a “calibration curve” can be built (see figure 2, below).A huge amount of work is currently underway to extend and improve the calibration curve.Some of the first radiocarbon dates produced showed that the Scottish tombs were thousands of years older than those in Greece.The barbarians of the north were capable of designing complex structures similar to those in the classical world.

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Now the curve extends (tentatively) to 50,000 years.

In addition, samples need to be thoroughly cleaned to remove carbon contamination from glues and soil before dating.

This is particularly important for very old samples.

Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons.

This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.

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