Defenition of carbon 14 dating

24 Feb

Free 5-day trial Ever wondered how scientists know the age of old bones in an ancient site or how old a scrap of linen is?

The technique used is called carbon dating, and in this lesson we will learn what this is and how it is used. Carbon dating, or radiocarbon dating, is a method used to date materials that once exchanged carbon dioxide with the atmosphere. In the late 1940s, an American physical chemist named Willard Libby first developed a method to measure radioactivity of carbon-14, a radioactive isotope.

Then the radiocarbon dating measures remaining radioactivity.

By knowing how much carbon-14 is left in a sample, the age of the organism and when it died can be worked out.

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However, once the organism dies, the amount of carbon-14 steadily decreases.

By measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in the organism, it's possible to work out how old it is.

You will notice that after around 40,000 years (or 8 half-lives), the amount left is starting to become very small, less than 1%.

This technique works well for materials up to around 50,000 years old.

Each radioactive isotope decays by a fixed amount, and this amount is called the half-life.

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