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Radioactive dating using a mass spectrometer Sex chat type

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The measurement of radiocarbon by mass spectrometry is very difficult because its concentration is less than one atom in 1,000,000,000,000.

The accelerator is used to help remove ions that might be confused with radiocarbon before the final detection.

It’s only good if you don’t mind burning quite a lot of the object you’re trying to date.

The problem with measuring radioactivity is that you need the carbon-14 atoms to actually decay in order to detect the radiation.

-counting method) or by directly counting the radiocarbon atoms using a method called Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS).

Measurement of the radioactivity of the sample works very well if the sample is large, but in 9 months less than 0.01% of the radiocarbon ions will decay, so in a reasonable measurement time (typically a few weeks) only a very small proportion of the radiocarbon atoms are detected by this method.

As we’re about to see, radioactivity decreases with time because there are fewer undecayed nuclei around TO decay.

A technique called mass spectroscopy enables the carbon-14 and carbon-12 atoms to be counted directly. By finding the proportion of carbon-14 atoms remaining you can calculate the age of the sample.

Using the decays of uranium and thorium, our galaxy has been found to be between 10 and 20 billion years old and the earth has been found to be 4.6 billion years old. Within experimental error, this estimate agrees with the 15 billion year estimate of the age of the Universe.

This decay process leads to a more balanced nucleus and when the number of protons and neutrons balance, the atom becomes stable.

This radioactivity can be used for dating, since a radioactive 'parent' element decays into a stable 'daughter' element at a constant rate.

The sample is put into the ion source either as graphite or as carbon dioxide.

It is ionised by bombarding it with caesium ions and then focused into fast-moving beam (energy typically 25ke V).