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The radiocarbon half-life or decay rate has been determined at 5,730 years.
Next comes the question of how scientists use this knowledge to date things.
Many people assume that rocks are dated at “millions of years” based on radiocarbon (carbon-14) dating. The most well-known of all the radiometric dating methods is radiocarbon dating.
Carbon-14 can yield dates of only “thousands of years” before it all breaks down.
When animals eat the plants, the carbon-14 enters their bodies.
With time those sand grains fall to the bottom bowl, so the new number represents the carbon-14 atoms left in the mammoth skull when we found it.
Since each beta particle represents one decayed carbon-14 atom, we know how many carbon-14 atoms decay during a month.
Chemists have already determined how many atoms are in a given mass of each element, such as carbon.4 So if we weigh a lump of carbon, we can calculate how many carbon atoms are in it.
These rapidly combine with oxygen atoms (the second most abundant element in the atmosphere, at 21%) to form carbon dioxide (CO).
This carbon dioxide, now radioactive with carbon-14, is otherwise chemically indistinguishable from the normal carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is slightly lighter because it contains normal carbon-12.
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Radioactive and non-radioactive carbon dioxide mix throughout the atmosphere, and dissolve into the oceans.