Dating prehistoric objects

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.

Radiocarbon dating is a method of estimating the age of organic material.

It was developed right after World War II by Willard F.

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.

Anything over about 50,000 years old, should theoretically have no detectable C.

That is, they take up less than would be expected and so they test older than they really are.

The ratio of normal carbon (carbon-12) to carbon-14 in the air and in all living things at any given time is nearly constant.

Maybe one in a trillion carbon atoms are carbon-14.

To measure the amount of radiocarbon left in a artifact, scientists burn a small piece to convert it into carbon dioxide gas.

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