Information on radiocarbon dating

Part of the result of these collisions is the production of radiocarbon (C, pronounced "c fourteen"), carbon atoms which are chemically the same as stable carbon, but have two extra neutrons.

Radiocarbon is not stable; over time radiocarbon atoms decay into nitrogen atoms.

The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval.

The Shroud of Turin , which many people believe was used to wrap Christ's body, bears detailed front and back images of a man who appears to have suffered whipping and crucifixion.

It can be used on objects as old as about 62,000 years.Photography of the shroud by Secondo Pia in 1898 indicated that the image resembled a photographic 'negative' and represents the first modern study.Subsequently the shroud was made available for scientific examination, first in 19 by a committee appointed by Cardinal Michele Pellegrino .Even for the first investigation, there was a possibility of using radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the linen from which the shroud was woven.The size of the sample then required, however, was ~500cm, which would clearly have resulted in an unacceptable amount of damage, and it was not until the development in the 1970s of small gas-counters and accelerator-mass-spectrometry techniques (AMS), requiring samples of only a few square centimetres, that radiocarbon dating of the shroud became a real possibility. The shroud was separated from the backing cloth along its bottom left-hand edge and a strip (~10 mm x 70 mm) was cut from just above the place where a sample was previously removed in 1973 for examination.

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