Safety issues of carbon dating

The three significant accidents in the 50-year history of civil nuclear power generation are: A table showing all reactor accidents, and a table listing some energy-related accidents with multiple fatalities are appended.

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Carbon dating is one of the few things in archaeology that we're lucky enough to have an unambiguous test for.

Tree-ring dating, in a given region, enables you to count the years precisely, one by one.

You can tell exactly how old a piece of wood is by tree-ring dating, and you can also tell approximately how old it is by carbon dating. The only thing carbon dating don't work quite right on is recent things from the last 70 years or so, because all the aboveground nuclear testing in the 50s put more Carbon-14 in the atmosphere than is normally there.

In the 1950s attention turned to harnessing the power of the atom in a controlled way, as demonstrated at Chicago in 1942 and subsequently for military research, and applying the steady heat yield to generate electricity.

This naturally gave rise to concerns about accidents and their possible effects.

However, with nuclear power, safety depends on much the same factors as in any comparable industry: intelligent planning, proper design with conservative margins and back-up systems, high-quality components and a well-developed safety culture in operations.The operating lives of reactors depend on maintaining their safety margin.A particular nuclear scenario was loss of cooling which resulted in melting of the nuclear reactor core, and this motivated studies on both the physical and chemical possibilities as well as the biological effects of any dispersed radioactivity.Those responsible for nuclear power technology in the West devoted extraordinary effort to ensuring that a meltdown of the reactor core would not take place, since it was assumed that a meltdown of the core would create a major public hazard, and if uncontained, a tragic accident with likely multiple fatalities.In avoiding such accidents the industry has been very successful.In over 16,000 cumulative reactor-years of commercial operation in 32 countries, there have been only three major accidents to nuclear power plants - Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima - the second being of little relevance to reactor design outside the old Soviet bloc.