History of carbon dating Chathot men
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Radiocarbon dating is a key tool archaeologists use to determine the age of plants and objects made with organic material.
Geologist Ralph Harvey and historian Mott Greene explain the principles of radiometric dating and its application in determining the age of Earth.
As the uranium in rocks decays, it emits subatomic particles and turns into lead at a constant rate.
Carbon dating is somewhat accurate because we are able to determine what the ratio was in the unobservable past to a certain extent.But for humans whose life span rarely reaches more than 100 years, how can we be so sure of that ancient date? Even the Greeks and Romans realized that layers of sediment in rock signified old age.But it wasn't until the late 1700s -- when Scottish geologist James Hutton, who observed sediments building up on the landscape, set out to show that rocks were time clocks -- that serious scientific interest in geological age began.Scientists have tried to extend confidence in the carbon dating method further back in time by calibrating the method using tree ring dating.Unfortunately, tree ring dating is itself not entirely reliable, especially the "long chronology" employed to calibrate the carbon dating method.