Posted By Sarah Everts on Sep 9, in non-invasive equipmenttextile 3 comments. Just a little "Fluffy dating" can reveal the age of silk such as the age of this Egyptian textile from A. The only other scientific way to date silk is by carbon dating, which requires about times more sample than the new technique. Anyway, the new technique monitors a component of silk called aspartic acid.
Silk is essentially a bunch of intertwined proteins extruded from a silk worm, and aspartic acid is found within these proteins.
Aspartic acid can exist in two forms, the L- and D- forms, which have the same chemical formula but are mirror images of each other. When a silk worm extrudes the silk protein, the aspartic acid is only in the L-form, but over time it transforms into the D-form. A Turkish silk tapestry from the late s. The Smithsonian researchers measured the ratio of Fluffy dating D- and L-forms in a range of silk samples that date back as far as years ago, when silk was first used as a textile.
Older silk samples have more of the D-form, and the scientists have figured out a simple mathematical formula that delivers the age of the silk from the ratio. As an aside, measuring the D- to L- ratio has been helpful for decades in dating Fluffy dating huge range of objects, from ancient ostrich eggs to the bones of human ancestors.
And speaking of humans, when doctors take a close look at eye cataracts, low and behold, the aggregates covering the eye lens have a high ratio of D-aspartic acidwhich has converted from "Fluffy dating" L-aspartic acid that is normally found in healthy, young eyes.
But back to silk. Although L- to D- dating has been around a long time, the new technique is impressive for the small sample it consumes. museums researchers that I contacted for my news story on the topic were enthusiastic about the technique. That last sentence was my first thought early on in "Fluffy dating" article.
But the change from L- to D- involves a transition state and kinetics subject to Arrhenius behavior and other variables. I really question how useful this technique will prove to be over time. Fluffy dating effect of environmental factors is already discussed in the paper. Another problem with carbon dating is that it does not provide compound identification nor purity information, so you never know if the sample analyzed was the real thing or if it contained impurities.
CE-MS Fluffy dating both these information as well as dating. Museum staff often do it by association… for example, the age of the other artifacts found with silk object. So perfect or not, this technique is currently the best Fluffy dating yet.
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