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How to determine age by carbon dating

How to determine age by carbon dating

Carbon dating is based upon the decay of 14C, a radioactive isotope of carbon with a relatively long half-life years. While 12C is the most abundant carbon isotope, there is a close to constant ratio of 12C to 14C in the environment, and hence in the molecules, cells, and tissues of living organisms.

Therefore, by knowing the amount of 14C in fossil remains, you can determine how long ago an organism died by examining the departure of the observed 12C to 14C ratio from the expected ratio for a living organism.

Returning to our example of carbon, knowing that the half-life of 14C is years, we can use this to find the constant, k.

Carbon 14 Dating Problems, Nuclear Chemistry & Radioactive Decay

For nearly 70 years, archaeologists have been measuring carbon levels past and determine absolute dates for everything from wood to food, pollen, the radioactivity of the carbon that's left behind reveals their age. For nearly 70 years, archaeologists have been measuring carbon levels past and determine absolute dates for everything from wood to food, pollen, the radioactivity of the carbon that's left behind reveals their age.

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