Vintage port would be a fine gift even if it needs to be really quite venerable before it truly delivers on its potential.
Today, carbon dating is used so widely as to be taken for granted.
Scientists across countless disciplines rely on it to date objects that are tens of thousands of years old. An analysis by Heather Graven, a climate-physics researcher at Imperial College London, finds that today's rate of fossil-fuel emissions is skewing the ratio of carbon that scientists use to determine an object's age.
The technique involves comparing the level of one kind of carbon atom—one that decays over time—with the level of another, more stable kind of carbon atom.
The approach was a sensation when it was introduced.
We're your NPR connection, and your source for regional news and lots of information about your summer community. Fallout from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons has distorted the background levels of the radioactive isotope carbon-14, used by archaeologists to date organic materials.
If you're glad we're here for you, please donate now. But it has an upside, providing a new scale by which to date more recent events, helping researchers track cell turnover in different parts of the body and in testing the age of everything from vintage wine to elephant ivory.There are two techniques in measuring radiocarbon in samples—through radiometric dating and by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS).The two techniques are used primarily in determining carbon 14 content of archaeological artifacts and geological samples.A twentieth-century vintage will be necessary even for those only just old enough to be allowed to drink, and it will have to be a wine that was worth keeping 20 years or so.Given the age of most wine enthusiasts, you are more likely to be looking for a wine that is several more decades old – quite a financial commitment.Only a minority of them carry a vintage date, however.