Best does carbon dating work simple explanation

best does carbon dating work simple explanation

Did you know? Carbon-14 dating technique has been successfully used on the Minoan ruins, Dead Sea Scrolls, and tombs of the Pharaohs. Carbon-14 dating is a scientific technique to determine the age of archaeological objects of a biological origin. This technique works for objects that are up to 50,000 years old. This method of dating was introduced to the world by Willard Libby in 1949, and for this outstanding work, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960. To understand how carbon-14 dating works, we need to understand a few things about carbon and its isotopes, how it is formed,.

best does carbon dating work simple explanation

They key to carbon dating is that the carbon isn't the carbon that's been on Earth ever since the Earth was formed. The carbon that's in carbon dating is carbon that's been newly made. Where that comes from is when cosmic rays - high energy particles from the sun - hit the Earth's atmosphere they interact with atoms and send neutrons flying around. when one of these neutrons hit a Nitrogen-14 (14N) atom, it knocks out a proton, and the 14N becomes Carbon-14 (14C).

This then circulates in the atmosphere but because this process is happening roughly at the same rate continuously the amount of carbon that's in the atmosphere is roughly continuous. Most of it ends up in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide so you have 14C carbon dioxide.

Plants then pick that up in their process of photosynthesis and they turn it into sugar. You then eat the plant and all the time that you are alive you're gaining radioactive carbon in your body which you incorporate into your body. The level in your body will be roughly constant because you're taking it in at a roughly constant rate from the environment. The ratio of radioactive to non-radioactive carbon should be the same all the time you or a plant are alive.

But when you die you stop adding new carbon-14 to your body and the 14C you've already got starts to break down to 14N because it's radioactive. The half-life is about 5500 years or so.

When you find an ancient specimen all you have to do is to compare how many 14C atoms are in it to the number of 12C atoms. The ratio tells you how long it was since it was last alive and this gives you a ballpark figure for its age. This does make the assumption that the production of 14C and incorporation into the food chain is the same now as it was thousands and thousands of years ago.

This assumption but it's assumed to be a fairly reasonable and accurate way to do it. The guy we have to credit is Willard Libby who discovered carbon dating in the 1940s, got the Nobel Prize for it actually. ©The Naked Scientists® 2000–2018 | The Naked Scientists® and Naked Science® are registered trademarks created by . Information presented on this website is the opinion of the individual contributors and does not reflect the general views of the administrators, editors, moderators, sponsors, Cambridge University or the public at large.


best does carbon dating work simple explanation

best does carbon dating work simple explanation - How does Carbon


best does carbon dating work simple explanation

See also: Cosmic rays hitting Nitrogen ( #""^14"N"#) in the upper atmosphere can convert it into carbon-14 ( #""^14"C"#) which is an unstable form of carbon, with a half life of about #5700# years.

The tiny ratio of #""^14"C"# to #""^12"C"# is reasonably stable, though slightly variable. The #""^14"C"# is chemically identical to normal #""^12"C"#, so while an animal or plant is living it get incorporated into organic material (bone, wood, etc) in the same proportion that it occurs in the atmosphere.

When the animal or plant dies, it stops absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and the proportion of #""^14"C"# to #""^12"C"# in bone, wood, etc starts decreasing in accordance with the half life of #""^14"C"#.

So by measuring the proportion of #""^14"C"# to #""^12"C"# in a piece of organic material, you can calculate how many years have elapsed since the animal or plant died.


best does carbon dating work simple explanation

If oxygen is the mainstay of all lifeforms, carbon is the essence of life. A major portion of the structure of any life form is composed of carbon and its compounds. Carbohydrates, which is the main source of energy for all lifeforms, contains carbon as its main constituent. Carbon atoms are everywhere; in plants, animals, oceans, air, rock, soil, etc., and it doesn't stay in one place.

Various natural and man-invoked activities ensure that the carbon atoms are always on the move. But this circulation of carbon is not random. It follows a particular pattern, a periodic cycle that is known as the carbon cycle. In the sections given below, we will see a simple diagram and explanation.

It is a cycle involving biological, geological, and chemical processes in which carbon atoms are exchanged between the Earth's biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and the atmosphere.

Carbon cycle is one of the most important cycles of the Earth and symbolizes the recycling of this abundant element throughout the biosphere as well as in all of its organisms.

It is usually considered that there are five major reservoirs of carbon on the planet, which are interlinked by flow of exchanges.

These reservoirs are: • The atmosphere • The terrestrial biosphere, which includes freshwater sources and other organic material like soil carbon. • The oceans―contain dissolved carbon in inorganic as well as organic, living and non-living, and marine flora and fauna. • The sediments, which includes fossil fuels. • The planet's interior has carbon in the Earth's mantle and crust.

It is vented to the atmosphere or hydrosphere by volcanic eruptions and geothermal activities. Here is the exact flow of events, as carbon flows from one layer to another as shown in the diagram above. • In the process of photosynthesis, atmospheric carbon is absorbed by plants. • This carbon is transferred form plants to the animals feeding on them, and further moves up the food chain. • Respiration, digestion, and metabolism of plants and animals result in some transfer of carbon back to the atmosphere.

• Some carbon also moves to the lithosphere when these living organisms die or when wood and leaves decay or when animals excrete. Some of these living beings buried millions of years ago have been converted to fossil fuels. • Mining and burning of fossil fuels cause this carbon to move from the lithosphere to the atmosphere.

• Some of this atmospheric carbon gets dissolved in the oceans and thus, completes the cycle. Below is another general flow chart of a carbon cycle representing the movement of carbon in various layers. In this one, we can clearly understand the complete steps of the carbon cycle and one can easily figure out that the total amount of carbon remains fixed. There is no creation or destruction of carbon in this process and only involves the movement of this element around a complete cycle in compound form.


Carbon Dating...100% accurate right?...NOT!
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