Each sample type has specific problems associated with its use for dating purposes, including contamination and special environmental effects.
More information on the sources of error in carbon dating are presented at the bottom of this page.
"Everything which has come down to us from heathendom is wrapped in a thick fog; it belongs to a space of time we cannot measure.
We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].
Due to counting and measurement errors for the blanks and samples, statistical errors are higher for very old samples.Although one can simply measure older samples for longer times, there are practical limits to the minimum sample activity that can be measured.At the present time, for a 1 milligram sample of graphite, this limiting age is about ten half-lives, or 60,000 years, if set only by the sample size.The method was developed immediately following World War II by Willard F.Libby and coworkers and has provided age determinations in archeology, geology, geophysics, and other branches of science.Ionization Inverse Square Law Interaction of RT/Matter Attenuation Coefficient Half-Value Layer Sources of Attenuation -Compton Scattering Geometric Unsharpness Filters in Radiography Scatter/Radiation Control Radiation Safety Radio-carbon dating is a method of obtaining age estimates on organic materials.