If we need to know how many centuries ago something was living, we need high-precision instruments, which currently do not exist in the country.
Hence, this facility is crucial and will enable us to accurately determine the date of various organic materials like skull and bones,” said co-investigator in the project Mayank Vahia, from the department of astronomy and astrophysics, TIFR.
Question: "Is carbon dating a reliable method for determining the age of things?
" Answer: Carbon dating, or radiocarbon dating, like any other laboratory testing technique, can be extremely reliable, so long as all of the variables involved are controlled and understood.
Further, we estimated how many samples India needs to carbon-date.
We came to the conclusion that even if we check 137 samples everyday, our facility will have to function 24 hours for two years at a stretch,” said Dushyant C Kothari, in-charge director of Mumbai University’s Centre for Nanosciences and Nanotechnology, where the facility is being established.
This is perhaps the greatest point of potential error, as assumptions about dating can lead to circular reasoning, or choosing confirming results, rather than accepting a “wrong” date.The other major factor affecting the results of carbon dating is gauging the original proportion of carbon-14 itself.Carbon dating is based on the loss of carbon-14, so, even if the present amount in a specimen can be detected accurately, we must still know how much carbon-14 the organism started with.“Currently, large samples are sent abroad and a lot of foreign exchange is spent on it.To carbon-date each sample, the current cost is approximately 600 euros.So even brand-new samples contain incredibly tiny quantities of radiocarbon.Eventually, the amount of carbon-14 remaining is so small that it’s all but undetectable.Besides its importance from the archaeological and astronomy-archaeological points of view, the facility is critical for geologists and can also be used for pharmaceutical applications in drug development.“We can use the facility to check when sediments of lakes were created and subsequently gauge the past geological events on the earth,” said Kothari.Second, radiocarbon dating becomes more difficult, and less accurate, as the sample gets older.The bodies of living things generally have concentrations of the isotope carbon-14, also known as radiocarbon, identical to concentrations in the atmosphere.