Northern peatlands in Finland are still expanding, finds study

According to a new study published in Global Change Biology, the area of northern peatlands has grown in recent centuries. Previously, it was thought that the lateral expansion of peatlands in Fennoscandia has halted or significantly ...

Ra-Pict prototyping bringing archaeology alive

3D scanners, 3D printers and even new smartphone technology is being used by University of Aberdeen archaeologists to enhance teaching and public engagement of the discipline.

Mouse mummies point to mammalian life in 'Mars-like' Andes

The dry, wind-swept summits of volcanoes in the Puna de Atacama of Chile and Argentina are the closest thing on Earth to the surface of Mars due to their thin atmosphere and freezing temperatures. At their extreme elevations ...

New dating of cave art reveals history of Puerto Rican people

In the karstic caves of Puerto Rico, cave art paints the rock walls. Previous research has assigned ages to this art based on the ages of nearby archaeological artifacts within the caves, but these ages are relative and may ...

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Carbon-14, 14C, or radiocarbon, is a radioactive isotope of carbon discovered on February 27, 1940, by Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben at the University of California Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, though its existence had been suggested already in 1934 by Franz Kurie. Its nucleus contains 6 protons and 8 neutrons. Its presence in organic materials is the basis of the radiocarbon dating method to date archaeological, geological, and hydrogeological samples.

There are three naturally occurring isotopes of carbon on Earth: 99% of the carbon is carbon-12, 1% is carbon-13, and carbon-14 occurs in trace amounts, e.g. making up as much as 1 part per trillion (0.0000000001%) of the carbon in the atmosphere. The half-life of carbon-14 is 5,730±40 years. It decays into nitrogen-14 through beta decay. The activity of the modern radiocarbon standard is about 14 disintegrations per minute (dpm) per gram carbon.

The atomic mass of carbon-14 is about 14.003241 amu. The different isotopes of carbon do not differ appreciably in their chemical properties. This is used in chemical research in a technique called carbon labeling: some carbon-12 atoms of a given compound are replaced with carbon-14 atoms (or some carbon-13 atoms) in order to trace them along chemical reactions involving the given compound.

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