Radiocarbon dating works by measuring how much the fraction of carbon-14 versus non-radioactive carbon in an object has changed and therefore how long the object has been around.
Radiocarbon dating is one of the great tools of science that has allowed archeologists to shed new light on everything from the building of Stonehenge to the beginnings of international trade.
However, a new study from the Imperial College London suggests that fossil fuel carbon emissions may be so diluting radioactive carbon isotopes that within decades it will difficult to differentiate between modern artifacts and those over a thousand years old.
It may conjure up a very odd mental picture, but every living thing on Earth has its own internal clock that's ready to start ticking the moment it dies.
Heather Graven from Imperial College London wanted to calculate the effect of this century’s fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on the ratio of radioactive carbon to the stable one.
Currently, the concentration of carbon-14 in the atmosphere has been diluted, increasing the radiocarbon age of our atmosphere by 30 years per year.
What scavengers like vultures and hyenas leave behind, flies, ants, worms, and bacteria quickly consume.
Organisms usually need to be covered by mud, sand, tar or some other sediment as soon as possible or frozen or dessicated (dried out) for fossilization to occur.
Radium, for example, has a half-life of about 1,600 years.
That is, if you had a solid block of radium, half of it would decay into other elements in 1,600 years.
"We can see from atmospheric observations that radiocarbon levels are steadily decreasing," Graven says in a statement.
C) dating usually want to know about the radiometric dating methods that are claimed to give millions and billions of years—carbon dating can only give thousands of years.