The man's body was recovered and pieces of tissue were studied for their C content by accelerator mass spectroscopy.The best estimate from this dating technique says the man lived between 33 BC. From the ratio, the time since the formation of the rock can be calculated.Scientists now know that most elements come in more than one version. When the dry periods ended and the water level rose, the trees drowned, marking the end of the droughts.
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Researchers have come up with a physical argument to explain carbon-14’s anomalously long lifetime.
A peculiar balance of fundamental forces in the nucleus of the atom may keep it stable for thousands of years longer than expected — thus making radiocarbon dating possible.
Unlike the other natural isotopes of carbon, carbon-14 is unstable. One of its neutrons turns into a proton and spits out an electron.
Now, with seven protons instead of six, it's turned into nitrogen. And scientists know exactly how long it will take for half of any amount of carbon-14 to decay away.
“It’s really just a coincidence that the carbon-14 happens to be really sensitive to these changes,” says Holt.