African Archaeological Review. The application of radiocarbon dating to determine the geochronology of archaeological sites is ubiquitous across the African continent. However, the method is not without limitations and this review article provides Africanist archaeologists with cautionary insights as to when, where, and how to utilize radiocarbon dates.
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Recent puzzling observations of tiny variations in nuclear decay rates have led some to question the science of using decay rates to determine the relative ages of rocks and organic materials. Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology NISTworking with researchers from Purdue University, the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Wabash College, tested the hypothesis that solar radiation might affect the rate at which radioactive elements decay and found no detectable effect. Atoms of radioactive isotopes are unstable and decay over time by shooting off particles at a fixed rate, transmuting the material into a more stable substance. For instance, half the mass of carbon, an unstable isotope of carbon, will decay into nitrogen over a period of 5, years.
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