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What can carbon dating date


The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom determines the element. For example, all carbon atoms have 6 protons, all atoms of nitrogen have 7 protons, and all oxygen atoms have 8 protons. The number of neutrons in the nucleus can vary in any given type of atom. So, a carbon atom might have six neutrons, or seven, or possibly eight—but it would always have six protons. An “isotope” is any of several different forms of an element, each having different numbers of neutrons. The illustration below shows the three isotopes of carbon.

The different isotopes of carbon do not differ appreciably in their chemical properties. This resemblance is used in chemical and biological research, in a technique called carbon labeling : carbon-14 atoms can be used to replace nonradioactive carbon, in order to trace chemical and biochemical reactions involving carbon atoms from any given organic compound.

Thermoluminescence dating is used for pottery. It dates items between the years 300-10,000 BP (before present). Thermoluminescence dating is generally not very accurate. The accuracy of thermoluminescence dating is only about 15% for a single sample and 7 to 10% for a suite of samples in a single context.


What can carbon dating date

What can carbon dating date





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