Carbon dating nuclear physics

Learn about different types of radiometric dating, such as carbon dating.

After plants die or are consumed by other organisms, the incorporation of all carbon isotopes, including 14C, stops.

Carbon-14 only works for things between 3 and 40 thousand years old. Carbon dating is based on an isotope of carbon, carbon 14, that's unstable. We breathe in carbon dioxide, we eat carbon, we take in carbon and so our bodies continually renewing our supply of carbon 14.

It decays with a half life of 5700 years into nitrogen 14 and electron and an electron antineutreno. So for that reason, every living thing that is interacting with its environment is expected to have this natural abundance of carbon 14. But when something dies, now it's not interacting with the environment anymore. We know that the amount at time t is equal to the initial amount times one half to the time over the half life, alright?

This was originally written on June 16th, 2012 after my family’s Father’s Day viewing of “Prometheus”.

It was then published in the final issue of Coilhouse.

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