The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Half-Life of Carbon-14

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Cutnell, John D., & Johnson, Kenneth W. Physics. 3rd ed. New York: Wiley, 1995: 994. "Isotope Carbon-14 Half-life 5.73 × 103 yr" 5,730 yr
World Book Encyclopedia. Q-R. Vol. 16. New York: World Book, 1996. "Half the radiocarbon in an object decays about every 5,700 years" 5,700 yr
Friedman, Gerald M. "Sinai Peninsula: Geology Illuminates Biblical Events." Geotimes. 1992: 18-20. "… radiocarbon … 'young' shells (5,700 years ago)" 5,700 yr
Hindle, Brook. The Frontiers of Knowledge. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975: 327. "radiocarbon with a half life of 5,730 years" 5,730 yr
Nachtrieb, Norman H. & David W. Oxtoby, Principles of Modern Chemistry. 3rd ed. USA: Saunders College Publishing. "Nuclide C-14 t(½) 5730 years" 5,730 yr

In the search for the value of the half life of carbon 14, also known as radiocarbon, I looked in two textbooks -- one of Chemistry and one of Physics (both of which are very current), an encyclopedia, a technical magazine article, and a really old book from the nineteen seventies. Convincingly, all the sources contained the same value, with only a difference in significant digits. Sources with a value of 5,700 years were stating an approximate value, using the word "about". The charts in the textbooks had a value of 5,730 years, which is the same as the other value, but with three significant digits instead if two. These college textbooks generally use standard values.

In conclusion of my research, I can tell you that the standard value for the half life of Carbon-14, or radiocarbon, is 5,730 years.

Margaret Kong -- 1997