Video carbon dating
Examples of use include analyzing charcoal from prehistoric caves, ancient linen and wood, and mummified remains.
It is often used on valuable artwork to confirm authenticity.
Notice that the nitrogen-14 atom is recreated and goes back into the cycle.
Atmospheric carbon-14 rapidly reacts with oxygen in air to form carbon dioxide and enters the carbon cycle.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contains a constant amount of carbon-14, and as long as an organism is living, the amount of carbon-14 inside it is the same as the atmosphere.
However, once the organism dies, the amount of carbon-14 steadily decreases.
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%.
Scientists often use the value of 10 half-lives to indicate when a radioactive isotope will be gone, or rather, when a very negligible amount is still left.
After viewing the video on carbon dating, use your newfound knowledge to: Did you know…
By measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in the organism, it's possible to work out how old it is.
This technique works well for materials up to around 50,000 years old.
Radiocarbon dating is a method used to date materials that once exchanged carbon dioxide with the atmosphere; in other words, things that were living.
Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope and is present in all living things in a constant amount.