Carbon dating works by comparing the carbon-12 to carbon-14 ratio.
As soon as a living organism dies, it stops taking in new carbon. The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 at the moment of death is the same as every other living thing, but the carbon-14 decays and is not replaced. The carbon-14 decays with its half-life of 5,700 years, while the amount of carbon-12 remains constant in the sample. By looking at the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the sample and comparing it to the ratio in a living organism, it is possible to determine the age of a formerly living thing fairly precisely.
Carbon dating is a way of determining the age of certain archeological artifacts. This process is used in determining the age of certain artifacts such as bone, cloth, wood, and plant fibers that were created in past by human activities. All living creatures on earth contain Carbon-14. “When an organism dies, the C-14 in its cells is no longer replenished and so begins to decay, to revert back to nitrogen, at a constant, measurable rate. The half-life is about 5730 years. Therefore, we need only count the amounts of carbon-12 and carbon14 in the organic material, and compare the results, and voila! we have an initial estimate of the age–that is, the point at which the organism stopped absorbing C-14.” To learn more about C-14, how it is formed and how they get into the systems of living organisms, read the article in the link below.
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