Carbon dating nuclear bomb

He recounts the studies he’s conducted on elephant tusks and heart cells.

In the decades after World War II, generations of schoolchildren practiced “duck and cover” drills, scrambling under their desks against the grim possibility of nuclear attack.

Two larger-than-life blow-up figures — an emperor penguin and Edvard Munch’s screamer — stand guard over it in a room the size of a basketball court.

When giving a tour of the noisy spectrometer, Buchholz sheds his measured tone and becomes animated.

After World War II ended, nuclear bomb testing intensified for nearly two decades as the Cold War deepened. In the 1990s, scientists speculated they might read that signature for scientific purposes.

“Everybody who’s been alive at this time has got this tracer in them, so let’s see what interesting science we can do with it,” Buchholz recalls thinking.

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