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Homework Help: Radioactive decay uncertainty

  1. Oct 18, 2015 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Charred wood remains were found in Conimbriga, probably with Roman origin. When measured at 14C activity in these remnants, it afforded 10.8 disintegrations per second per gram. The half-processing 14C is 5730 ± 30 years and the activity of this isotope in the atmosphere and in living matter is 13.5 disintegrations per second per gram.

    Calculate the uncertainty in dating, because of the imprecision of 30 years in the half-transformation of 14C.

    2. Relevant equations
    N = No x e^(-kt)
    R = Ro x e^(-kt)

    R is the activity
    k is the decay constant

    3. The attempt at a solution

    So there were previous question, one was calculating k (k = 1.21 x 10^-4) and the other was for calculate the dating (1844 years).
    But now I have to calculate the uncertainty of the dating I previously calculated.
    So, I know I need to derivate and use the propagation of errors formula... But I'm having trouble to get to the right expression...
    The right answer of the problem is 10 years.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 18, 2015 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Can you show your attempt?
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