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Now, new applications for the technique are emerging in forensics, thanks to research funded by NIJ and other organizations.In recent years, forensic scientists have started to apply carbon-14 dating to cases in which law enforcement agencies hope to find out the age of a skeleton or other unidentified human remains.Archaeologists have long used carbon-14 dating (also known as radiocarbon dating) to estimate the age of certain objects.Traditional radiocarbon dating is applied to organic remains between 500 and 50,000 years old and exploits the fact that trace amounts of radioactive carbon are found in the natural environment.To determine year of birth, the researchers focused on tooth enamel.

The difference between carbon (with an electronegativity of 2.55) and sulfur…Barring any future nuclear detonations, this method should continue to be useful for year-of-birth determinations for people born during the next 10 or 20 years.Everyone born after that would be expected to have the same level of carbon-14 that prevailed before the nuclear testing era.The researchers found that certain soft tissues — notably blood, nails and hair — had radiocarbon levels identical to the contemporary atmosphere.Therefore, the radiocarbon level in those tissues post-mortem would indicate the year of death.

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