Otzi the iceman carbon dating

NUPEX aims to provide teachers and students with reliable, up-to-date information on nuclear science in several major European languages.

The information on this site is interesting and easy to understand, with helpful visual aids and explanations at every step of the way.

Nuclear Physics is the study of the properties and behaviour of nuclei and particles, ranging from tiny quarks to giant explosions deep in space.

Nuclear physics is important in a vast variety of situations, from understanding how the Sun provides the energy for life on this planet, to nuclear power plants and radiation therapy.

For a rare event it happens pretty damn often — one million carbon-14 atoms in your body decay into nitrogen every minute!

But don't panic — of the 800,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 carbon atoms in every one of us, about 800,000,000,000,000 are carbon-14, so we've got a few to spare.

An incredible chain of coincidences allowed the Iceman to remain intact: he was covered by snow shortly after his death and later by ice; the deep gully where the Iceman lay prevented the body from being ground up by the base of the glacier; the body was exposed to damaging sunlight and wind only for a short time in 1991 between the time the mummy thawed and the accidental discovery. It was an Austrian reporter, Karl Wendl, who first named the mummy "Ötzi," referring to the Ötzal Alps where it was found. The man's natural mummification and dehydration in the Alpine glacier produced a "collapse of the genitalia," which left the Iceman with an almost invisible member. The Iceman's last meal probably consisted of a porridge of einkorn, meat and vegetables.

According to a resolution by the South Tyrol Provincial Government, the official name for the mummy is "Der Mann aus dem Eis" - "L'Uomo venuto dal ghiaccio" (The man who came from ice). Soon after the mummy was recovered, a harsh controversy arose on which soil - Italian or Austrian - it was found. 2, 1991 established that the mummy lay 303.67 feet from the border in South Tyrol, in Italy. The Iceman had a remarkable diastema, or natural gap, between his two upper incisors. Even though he suffered from cavities, worn teeth and periodontal diseases, he still had all his teeth when he died at around 45. Researchers are still investigating the sampled material to determine the exact nature on the Iceman's last meal. Three gallbladder stones were recently found which, in combination with the previously identified atherosclerosis, show that Ötzi's diet may have been richer in animal products than previously thought. The Iceman's stomach also contained 30 different types of pollen, which ended up there with the food he ate, the water he drank and the air he breathed.

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The story began on a sunny September day, when two hikers were traversing a mountain pass at the 3210-meter (10,530 foot) level and saw a brown, leathery shape protruding from the ice amidst running melt-water.

Chemically, carbon-14 is no different from non-radioactive carbon atoms, so it ends up in all the usual carbon places — one trillionth of the carbon atoms in air, plants, animals and us are radioactive.

All radioactive atoms eventually decay into something more stable, and carbon-14 decays into nitrogen.

A scientific team was assembled and, over a three-day period, the remains were extracted and taken to the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Innsbruck. Otzi was found lying face down with outstretched arms in a protected rock depression near the Finail Peak watershed at the top of the Tisenjoch pass which connects two forested valleys.

Such an incredibly valuable find soon led to a jurisdictional argument between the Austrian and Italian governments and an immediate border survey was done, finding Otzi had been lying ninety-two meters inside of Italian territory. The trench measured 40 meters (131 foot) long, between 5 and 8 meters (16-26 foot) wide, and averaged 3 meters (10 feet) deep.

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