updating audio drivers - Accuracy and precision in radiocarbon dating


Libby, however, faced a major hurdle with using the instrument to measure C signal he expected to see. In this way, Libby and his colleagues reduced the background signal from 150 cpm to 10 cpm and minimized the variability associated with the signal to "about 5-10% error," or less than 1 cpm.

In 1949, he reported on a method for reducing the background signal and variability: He placed the entire sample and the detector inside of a tube shielded by 2 inches of lead and 4 inches of iron (W. Libby and colleagues do not use the word is the difference between the true value and the measured value, and that difference can have many different causes.

accuracy and precision in radiocarbon dating-50

Even the most skilled marksman cannot account for every variable affecting the path of the bullet, like sudden gusts of wind or variations in air pressure.

Shooting from the standing position involves even greater uncertainty, as indicated by the larger targets used, because even the simple rise and fall of an athlete's chest as they breathe can affect the aim of their rifle.

Because the method was new, Arnold and Libby were careful to replicate their measurements to provide a detailed estimate of different types of error, and they compared the results of their method with samples of a known age as a control (Table 1).

Table 1: Age determinations on samples of known age from Arnold & Libby (1949).

The targets the athletes aim for are all 50 m away, but the size varies to match the precision expected of them; those targeted while shooting in the prone position are 4.5 cm in diameter while those targeted from the more difficult standing position are 11.5 cm in diameter.