Carbon dating radioactive decay
“The calculation that they did does not support their far-reaching statement,” says Petr Navrátil a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, adding that the researchers made several simplifications in the model.
Navrátil and others say that the best way to investigate the problem is through computationally intensive calculations that add up the three-body forces at work between nucleons and not through adjustments in meson mass.
Now, researchers say that the difference may come down to a still-debated idea about how much mesons weigh in atomic nuclei.
Mesons serve as carrier particles for the strong nuclear force that keeps the protons and neutrons, collectively called nucleons, together.
Holt says that his team’s approach is not at odds with many-body calculations, but agrees that more work needs to be done.
“In order for this to be the nail in the coffin, we would need experimental evidence for these dropping masses as well as complementary calculation within the three-body community,” he says.
Levels of C can represent either mixtures of modern and dead carbon or carbon that was fixed from the atmosphere less than 50,000 years ago.
Although the time at which any individual atom will decay cannot be forecast, the time in which any given percentage of a sample will decay can be calculated to varying degrees of accuracy.
The time that it takes for half of a sample to decay is known as the half life of the isotope.
Signals of this kind are often used by chemists studying natural environments.
A hydrocarbon found in beach sediments, for example, might derive from an oil spill or from waxes produced by plants.