Scientific instrument used for carbon dating

Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 ± 40 years— during the succeeding 5,730 years.

Green plants absorb the carbon dioxide, so the population of carbon-14 molecules is continually replenished until the plant dies.

Follow the links below to learn more about radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating uses carbon isotopes A special kind of radiocarbon dating: Bomb radiocarbon dating What is an isotope?

To understand radiocarbon dating, you first have to understand the word Although an element’s number of protons cannot change, the number of neutrons can vary slightly from each atom.

Atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes. Most carbon on Earth exists as the very stable isotope carbon-12, with a very small amount as carbon-13.

Here’s an example using the simplest atom, hydrogen. Carbon-14 is an unstable isotope of carbon that will eventually decay at a known rate to become carbon-12.

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Until this century, relative dating was the only technique for identifying the age of a truly ancient object.

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