Simple explanation of carbon 14 dating

He predicted that he should be able to find cosmic generated C-14 in living things, but instruments for detection were very crude.After developing better in­struments, he detected C-14 in methane gas obtained from the Baltimore, Maryland sew­erage disposal plant.Some chemical elements have more than one type of atom. Carbon has two stable, nonradioactive isotopes: carbon-12 (12C), and carbon-13 (13C).

simple explanation of carbon 14 dating-2

At high geomagnetic latitudes, the carbon-14 spreads evenly throughout the atmosphere and reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide also permeates the oceans, dissolving in the water.

To check C-14's dating accuracy, mate­rials of known or closely known ages were tested, such as a loaf of bread excavated at Pompeii, the Roman city destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Fortunately, AMS (accelerator mass spec-trometry) came along in the 1970s. Even small scrapings from the charcoal pigment used in European Neolithic cave paintings have been dated. Because we no longer have to wait for C-14 atoms to decay in order to detect them.

AMS can literally sort out and count the atoms of C-14 from C-12 and C-13.

The amount of carbon-14 gradually decreases through radioactive beta decay with a half-life of 5,730 years.

So, scientists can estimate the age of the fossil by looking at the level of decay in its radioactive carbon.But when they die, a clock starts ticking, which is the radioactive decay of the C-14.The clock begins at death because no more C-14 is com­ing in.C-14 was not found in methane gas derived from petroleum. Wood from an Egyptian first Dynasty tomb was the oldest test sample.Because of its great age, the original C-14 had long ago decayed. The second step was to see if C-14 could be used to date archeological materials that at one time had been alive (no, we cannot directly date ar­rowheads, unless they are made of bone or antler). By historical records it was known to be about 4,900 years old. By stratigraphy, we could tell that one artifact should be older than others be­cause it was found in lower, deeper strata than other artifacts. But putting absolute dates on prehistoric arti­facts was largely creative guess work. For example, Libby de­termined the last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago, and not 25,000 years as previously thought. One of the most frequent uses of radiocarbon dating is to estimate the age of organic remains from archaeological sites.

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