Carbon dating elementary
Their work expands on an earlier theory put forward by Gerry Brown and Mannque Rho in 1991, which suggested that the masses of almost all light mesons scale-down uniformly as they travel though an atomic nucleus.Mesons are particles that contain a quark and an antiquark, and are bound — like protons, neutrons and other “hadrons” — by the strong interaction.The discovery might give physicists a better grip on the strong interaction, the most powerful of the four fundamental forces of nature.Carbon has two stable isotopes, carbon-12 and carbon-13, and several radioactive ones, including carbon-14.
But in spite of the usefulness of carbon-14, theorists have struggled to explain why its half-life is so long compared with those of carbon-11, oxygen-14, oxygen-15 and nitrogen-13, which are just a matter of minutes.
The radioactive decay of carbon-14 may be invaluable for dating biological artefacts, but no one has ever been sure why it is so slow.
Now, researchers in the US and Canada think it is because mesons — elementary particles that contribute indirectly to the decay — change their properties as they pass through a carbon-14 nucleus.
The rate at which this decay occurs is at a half life rate of 5,730 years.
This means that it takes 5,730 years for one half of the Carbon-14 left in the now dead organism to decay.