Carbon dating industrial revolution
As one of the oldest age dating methods in use today, it is unfortunate that C-14 dating is still so misunderstood by the general public.
Its primary use is in dating organic material less than 60,000 years old, and it is a capable means toward that end.
Perhaps most humbling is how scientific inquiry irradiates the imperfect fidelity between our subjective intuitions about reality and its actual nature.
C-14 (or radiocarbon) dating is one such mechanism purposed to improve our understanding of the earth’s past in meaningful ways.
For example, nuclear tests effected across the globe throughout the 20th century increased the ratio of C-14 temporarily.
As it happens, isotopic signatures also represent the “smoking gun” for human-caused global warming.
Otherwise put, while the C-14 ratio found in living matter tends to stay consistent with the atmospheric ratio, it is the atmospheric ratio that is inconsistent over time.
When exposed to radiation from the sun, C-14 decays into nitrogen-14 (N-14) via beta decay.
As long as the organism is alive, regardless of which rung on the food chain it occupies, it will retain a stable supply of C-14 by continually replenishing its stores. Humans and animals on the other hand refill their carbon reserves by consuming plants and other animals.
One of the most extraordinary, not to mention useful, avails of science is its ability to comment with accuracy on the past.
Our forays into the terrain of microscopy have provided us a privileged aperture into the reaches of history, a perspective of greater and greater precision, enabling us to demystify and make proper sense of what we see and observe of our natural surroundings.