Calibrated vs uncalibrated carbon dating

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The technology uses a series of mathematical calculations—the most recognizable of which is known as half-life—to estimate the age the organism stopped ingesting the isotope.Unfortunately, the amount of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere has not been steady throughout history.As the lecture detailed, it is only accurate from about 62,000 years ago to 1,200 A. There is a sizable amount of time before and after that period that cannot be investigated using this method.Also, archaeologists cannot use their hands to touch the samples or smoke near them.

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While an uncalibrated reading may be off by a factor of 10%-20%, calibration severely reduces that value.Though the calibrated date is more precise, many scholars still use the uncalibrated date in order to keep chronologies consistent in academic communities.Though it’s biggest, the calibration problem is not the only flaw of radiocarbon dating.If an archaeologist wanted to date a dead tree to see when humans used it to build tools, their readings would be significantly thrown off.This is because radiocarbon dating gives the date when the tree ceased its intake of Carbon-14—not when it was being used for weapons and other instruments!

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