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Most aboveground nuclear bomb testing happened between 19, and those detonations released untold numbers of neutrons into the atmosphere.These slammed into nitrogen atoms, causing their nuclei to eject a proton.When scientists want to find out how old a fossil is, they often look at the amount of carbon 14 it contains.This radioactive isotope was present in the atmosphere in a steady ratio with its more stable counterpart, carbon 12, for a long time.

But without knowing exactly when each neuron was created, scientists couldn’t say with any certainty that this was true.Your access to the NCBI website at gov has been temporarily blocked due to a possible misuse/abuse situation involving your site.This is not an indication of a security issue such as a virus or attack.Spalding and her postdoc advisor Jonas Frisén had a hunch that a pulse of radioactive carbon created by above-ground nuclear tests during the Cold War could help solve the riddle.“A geopolitical phenomenon—this Cold War bomb testing—has, in a way, put a date stamp on everything and everybody,” Spalding says.

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