Traditional radiocarbon dating is applied to organic remains between 500 and 50,000 years old and exploits the fact that trace amounts of radioactive carbon are found in the natural environment.
Now, new applications for the technique are emerging in forensics, thanks to research funded by NIJ and other organizations.
Forensic anthropologists at The University of Arizona took advantage of this fact in a recent study funded by NIJ.
The researchers wanted to find out if they could identify a person's year of birth or year of death using precise measurements of carbon-14 levels in different post-mortem tissues.
Therefore, the radiocarbon level in those tissues post-mortem would indicate the year of death.
The researchers found that year-of-death determinations based on nails were accurate to within three years.
Adult teeth are formed at known intervals during childhood.
The researchers found that if they assumed tooth enamel radiocarbon content to be determined by the atmospheric level at the time the tooth was formed, then they could deduce the year of birth.
However, the researchers suggested that soft tissue radiocarbon content would be transferred to, and preserved in, the pupal cases of insects whose larvae feed on these tissues.The spike in atmospheric carbon-14 levels during the 1950s and early 1960s makes this approach possible, but it also means it will have a limited period of utility because the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere is slowly returning to its natural level.Barring any future nuclear detonations, this method should continue to be useful for year-of-birth determinations for people born during the next 10 or 20 years.It is, therefore, not surprising that many misconceptions about what radiocarbon can or cannot do and what it has or has not shown are prevalent among creationists and evolutionists - lay people as well as scientists not directly involved in this field.In the following article, some of the most common misunderstandings regarding radiocarbon dating are addressed, and corrective, up-to-date scientific creationist thought is provided where appropriate. Radiocarbon is used to date the age of rocks, which enables scientists to date the age of the earth.These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'carbon dating.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Archaeologists have long used carbon-14 dating (also known as radiocarbon dating) to estimate the age of certain objects.Radiocarbon is not used to date the age of rocks or to determine the age of the earth.Other radiometric dating methods such as potassium-argon or rubidium-strontium are used for such purposes by those who believe that the earth is billions of years old.To determine year of death, the researchers used radiocarbon levels in soft tissues.Unlike tooth enamel, soft tissues are constantly being made and remade during life.