Science & Tech

Carbon Dating and its function

The Allahabad High Court directed the ASI to carbon date the ‘Shivling’ discovered on the premises of the Gyanvapi mosque without inflicting any structural damage.

What is Carbon Dating?

  • Carbon dating is a popular method for establishing the age of once-living organic materials.
  • The approach relies on the radioactive decay of Carbon-14 (C-14), a carbon isotope with an atomic mass of 14.
  • It operates by measuring the C-12 to C-14 ratio in the atmosphere as well as in plants and animals that obtain carbon through photosynthesis or food consumption.
  • Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 40 years, which means that half of the radioisotope existing at any particular time will spontaneously disintegrate during the next 5,730 years.
  • Because carbon-14 decays at a consistent pace, the amount of leftover radiocarbon in an organism can be used to estimate the date of death.

Carbon Dating’s Limitations

  • Carbon dating has limitations and cannot be used in all situations.
  • It cannot be used to determine the age of non-living things such as rocks.
  • Carbon dating becomes less reliable as the amount of measurable C-14 decreases for objects older than 40,000-50,000 years.
  • Other radiometric dating methods, which rely on the decay of radioactive elements present in the substance, are used to calculate the age of inanimate items.
  • Potassium-argon dating and uranium-thorium-lead dating are two examples of such procedures, which use the ratios of certain isotopes to estimate the age of rocks.

Other Methods of Dating

  • Aside from radiometric dating, there are other methods for determining the age of items.
  • CRN is one such technology that uses radioactive decay to estimate age and is often used to study the age of ice cores in the Polar Regions.
  • Potassium-argon dating: A radiometric dating method that determines the age of rocks by measuring the ratio of potassium to argon isotopes.
  • Uranium-thorium-lead dating: A radiometric dating method that estimates the age of rocks by analysing the ratios of uranium, thorium, and lead isotopes.
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