Dating wine tritium
Tritium has also found widespread uses as a tracer in medicine, agriculture and industry.
The discovery of tritium in 1932 involved the work of several very eminent scientists that included Lord Rutherford, Sir John Cockroft, Ernest Lawrence, Luis Alvarez, Willard Libby--just to name a few.
One TU (Tritium Unit) means a tritium to hydrogen ratio of 10.
Whereas the addition of bomb tritium to the environment practically eliminated the use of natural tritium as a tracer, it offered a new tool, i.e., the use of the bomb tritium peak (Fig.
Before the full potential of natural tritium as a tracer for water movement in natural systems could be explored its distribution was masked by addition of large amounts of so-called ‘bomb tritium’ produced during the surface tests of nuclear weapons.
These tests which were mainly performed in the early 1960s, led to an increase of tritium in precipitation over the continents of the northern hemisphere from roughly 5 TU to levels of the order of 1000 TU.
The glass on the left has sixty-four times fewer tritium counts than the glass on the right. Tritium undergoes radioactive decay with a half-life of 12.33 years.
The glass on the left has sixty-four times fewer tritium counts than the glass on the right. What is the age of the wine in the glass on the left, and the glass on the right? What assumption(s) do you have to make in order to compare their tritium counts? Is this an accurate assumption in light of the events of the post- World War II world?
Following the discovery of stable hydrogen-2 (commonly called deuterium), by Harold Urey, the method for the isolation of deuterium oxide or heavy water from natural water by electrolytic process made it possible to prepare deuterium gas.
The approach was tested in three adjacent caves in northwestern Germany which were monitored for about two years.
All of the studied drip sites yielded drip water ages between 2 and 4 years with uncertainties on the order of 1 year.
After a careful examination of the products of reaction (the hallmark of the Cambridge Laboratory in UK), it was revealed that two near nuclear species with mass number 3 could be identified i.e., one was tritium (H-3) and the other helium-3 (He-3) lighter than ordinary helium (He-4).
With the availability of deuteron beam from Ernest Lawrence's cyclotron at the University of California, Berkeley, new isotopes were being produced by bombarding anything the physicists could get hold of.