Carbon dating lucy

21 Feb

The clock was initially calibrated by dating objects of known age such as Egyptian mummies and bread from Pompeii; work that won Willard Libby the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.But even he “realized that there probably would be variation”, says Christopher Bronk Ramsey, a geochronologist at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the latest work, published today in Science.By analyzing the skeleton (which included hands, feet, limbs, pelvis, and skull), researchers estimate that she was about four feet tall and weighed about 110 pounds.She was adept at both climbing through trees (with help from opposable big toes) as well as standing on two legs.The technique hinges on carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of the element that, unlike other more stable forms of carbon, decays away at a steady rate.

A team of scientists from Purdue University; the University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa; the University of New Brunswick, in Canada; and the University of Toulouse, in France, performed the research, which will be featured in the journal Nature.

C dating method was developed between 19 by the chemist, Willard Libby of the University of Chicago, for which he received the Nobel prize in 1960.

It is an absolute dating method which has also enabled the verification of the stratigraphic dating method, a method based on the identification of homogeneous layers of ground in order to obtain information on the nature and the date of the archaeological site.

By measuring the ratio of the radio isotope to non-radioactive carbon, the amount of carbon-14 decay can be worked out, thereby giving an age for the specimen in question.

But that assumes that the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere was constant — any variation would speed up or slow down the clock.