Quiz on carbon dating

It uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 (14C) to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years old.Carbon has two stable, nonradioactive isotopes: carbon-12 (12C) and carbon-13 (13C).If you're looking for an archived version of this page, you can find it on the January 19 snapshot.Here's what our Public Affairs Office released about these changes.The carbon-14 isotope would vanish from Earth's atmosphere in less than a million years were it not for the constant influx of cosmic rays interacting with molecules of nitrogen (N) into organic compounds during photosynthesis, the resulting fraction of the isotope 14C in the plant tissue will match the fraction of the isotope in the atmosphere.

The principle underlying the use of carbon dating is that carbon is a part of all living things on earth.

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Once the organism dies, however, it ceases to absorb carbon-14, so that the amount of the radiocarbon in its tissues steadily decreases.

Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 ± 40 years— during the succeeding 5,730 years.

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