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Linear accelerator used in radiocarbon dating

Linear accelerator used in radiocarbon dating

H170/0018

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Credit

JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Radiocarbon dating. Samples of carbon dioxide being loaded into a linear accelerator (linac) for radiocarbon dating. This analyses the amount of carbon-14 (14C) in the gas, produced by the combustion of the sample in oxygen. The linac is used as the mass of 14C is so close to that of nitrogen-14 from the sample. The ratio of radioactive 14C to stable carbon-12 may be related to the time since the death of the animal or plant being investigated. Convention states that 14C has a half-life of 5568 years (+/- 30 years), but this is now thought to be too short. Dates are given either as radiocarbon dates, or solar dates after corrections are made.

Release details

Model release available. Property release not required.

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