Radio 14 carbon dating

However, there is strong evidence which suggests that radioactive decay may have been greatly accelerated in the unobservable past.

We must also assume that the ratio of C-12 to C-14 in the atmosphere has remained constant throughout the unobservable past (so we can know what the ratio was at the time of the specimen's death).

Here’s an example using the simplest atom, hydrogen. Carbon-14 is an unstable isotope of carbon that will eventually decay at a known rate to become carbon-12.

Radiocarbon dating uses isotopes of the element carbon. Cosmic rays – high-energy particles from beyond the solar system – bombard Earth’s upper atmosphere continually, in the process creating the unstable carbon-14. Because it’s unstable, carbon-14 will eventually decay back to carbon-12 isotopes.

If the ratio is a quarter of what it should be (one in every four trillion) we can assume the creature has been dead for 11,460 year (two half-lives).

A detailed description of radiocarbon dating is available at the Wikipedia radiocarbon dating web page.

Bottom line: Radiocarbon dating is a technique used by scientists to learn the ages of biological specimens from the distant past.

Aboveground nuclear testing almost doubled the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere. The black arrow shows when the Partial Test Ban Treaty was enacted that banned aboveground nuclear tests. A special kind of radiocarbon dating: Bomb radiocarbon dating.

As we mentioned above, the carbon-14 to carbon-12 ratio in the atmosphere remains nearly constant.

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