Cowboy boot carbon dating

By measuring the ratio of the radio isotope to non-radioactive carbon, the amount of carbon-14 decay can be worked out, thereby giving an age for the specimen in question.But that assumes that the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere was constant — any variation would speed up or slow down the clock.The clock was initially calibrated by dating objects of known age such as Egyptian mummies and bread from Pompeii; work that won Willard Libby the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.But even he “realized that there probably would be variation”, says Christopher Bronk Ramsey, a geochronologist at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the latest work, published today in Science.It’s best to stick to classics like Levi’s, or, even better, to western companies like Wrangler.The leg shouldn’t be too wide, this is not the 1970s, after all, and it shouldn’t be too skinny either, since the jeans are supposed to go over the boot, not to be tucked in.

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Take the extinction of Neanderthals, which occurred in western Europe less than 30,000 years ago.

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Climate records from a Japanese lake are set to improve the accuracy of the dating technique, which could help to shed light on archaeological mysteries such as why Neanderthals became extinct.

Carbon dating is used to work out the age of organic material — in effect, any living thing.

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