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Carbon dating hampered by rising fossil-fuel emissions

Science. Carbon-dating techniques rely on the fact that there are several isotopes of carbon in the air. Stable carbon-12 is the most common but there is also a small amount of radioactive carbon-14, in a proportion that varies naturally over time.The researchers who track the ever-rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have charted a landmark moment: as of 2021, the burning of fossil fuels has officially shifted the composition of carbon isotopes in the air. This could cause problems for valuable carbon-dating techniques. The trend “could soon make it difficult to tell if something is 1,000 years old or modern”, says one radiocarbon-dating specialist. Researchers have long known that the end of this technique was coming, but increasing CO2 emissions have accelerated the process and in the coming decades the carbon-14 value will no longer be diagnostic of a date. Click to read more about this scientific topic, article from Nature, including 3 academic references. And here you can read another interesting post, about the intriguing carbon signatures on Mars as measured by NASA's Curiosity rover.


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“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty”

Madame Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) Chemist & physicist. French, born Polish.

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