As you learned in the previous page, carbon dating uses the half-life of Carbon-14 to find the approximate age of certain objects that are 40,000 years old or younger.In the following section we are going to go more in-depth about carbon dating in order to help you get a better understanding of how it works.In order to date the artifact, the amount of Carbon-14 is compared to the amount of Carbon-12 (the stable form of carbon) to determine how much radiocarbon has decayed.
The technique provides a common chronometric time scale of worldwide applicability on a routine basis in the age range from about 300 calender years to between 40,000 and 50,000 years.
With isotopic enrichment and larger sample sizes, ages up to 75,000 years have been measured (Taylor ).
These atoms rapidly decay into radiocarbon-dioxide and along with ordinary CO2 are absorbed by living plants.
As plants enter the human and animal food chains the C14 dioxide enters their living tissue.
Libby and coworkers, and it has provided a way to determine the ages of different materials in archeology, geology, geophysics, and other branches of science.
Some examples of the types of material that radiocarbon can determine the ages of are wood, charcoal, marine and freshwater shell, bone and antler, and peat and organic-bearing sediments.
When these energetic neutrons collide with a nitrogen-14 (seven protons, seven neutrons) atom it turns into a carbon-14 atom (six protons, eight neutrons) and a hydrogen atom (one proton, zero neutrons).
Since Nitrogen gas makes up about 78 percent of the Earth's air, by volume, a considerable amount of Carbon-14 is produced.
Radiocarbon measurements can be obtained on a wide spectrum of carbon-containing samples including charcoal, wood, marine shell, and bone.