arrow3 Comments
  1. John Spevacek
    Sep 09 - 1:09 pm

    That last sentence was my first thought early on in the article. The beauty/curse of radioactivity is that is is insensitive to temperature, which makes it great for dating materials, but causes us immense problems with nuclear waste disposal – we can’t just heat it up to make it decay faster.

    But the change from L- to D- involves a transition state and kinetics subject to Arrhenius behavior and other variables. I really question how useful this technique will prove to be over time.

    • Mehdi Moini
      Sep 09 - 4:28 pm

      This effect of environmental factors is already discussed in the paper. Another problem with carbon dating is that it does not provide compound identification nor purity information, so you never know if the sample analyzed was the real thing or if it contained impurities. CE-MS provides both these information as well as dating.

  2. Sarah Everts
    Sep 09 - 1:27 pm

    I was told by several conservators that currently very little C-14 dating is being done on silk because it simply requires too much sample, so in practice that means there’s no scientific way to date silk. (Museum staff often do it by association… for example, the age of the other artifacts found with silk object.) So perfect or not, this technique is currently the best thing yet.

    I discussed the effects of the environment with the first author and he told me that he figures most of the silk currently in museums was probably well-cared for over the artifact’s ovrall history (therefore it survived to modern day) and that this suggests it was stored well out of the sun and heat for most of its lifetime. There’s no proof this is the case, but it’s not a crazy assumption.

    As for the more technical details, you might want to take that up with the first author.

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