Photography of the shroud by Secondo Pia in 1898 indicated that the image resembled a photographic 'negative' and represents the first modern study.Subsequently the shroud was made available for scientific examination, first in 19 by a committee appointed by Cardinal Michele Pellegrino .And if it isn't constant, how do you calibrate your measurement so you can actually figure out how much carbon-14 there is relative to living plants and animals at that time?And the way that you can make that calibration, because it turns out it isn't perfectly constant, the way that you can make that calibration, there's two ways, and I have pictures here of both of them, one is to look at tree things. And I'm told this will work up to about 10,000 years. I don't know of any 10,000 year old trees, I don't think anyone does, but maybe there's some remains of old trees.
Over the years, carbon 14 dating has also found applications in geology, hydrology, geophysics, atmospheric science, oceanography, paleoclimatology, and even biomedicine.
Even for the first investigation, there was a possibility of using radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the linen from which the shroud was woven.
The size of the sample then required, however, was ~500cm, which would clearly have resulted in an unacceptable amount of damage, and it was not until the development in the 1970s of small gas-counters and accelerator-mass-spectrometry techniques (AMS), requiring samples of only a few square centimetres, that radiocarbon dating of the shroud became a real possibility. The shroud was separated from the backing cloth along its bottom left-hand edge and a strip (~10 mm x 70 mm) was cut from just above the place where a sample was previously removed in 1973 for examination.
Radiocarbon, or carbon 14, is an isotope of the element carbon that is unstable and weakly radioactive. Carbon 14 is continually being formed in the upper atmosphere by the effect of cosmic ray neutrons on nitrogen 14 atoms.
It is rapidly oxidized in air to form carbon dioxide and enters the global carbon cycle.