Facts on carbon dating

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This makes it possible to tell the age of substances that contain carbon.

It has become my custom here at Interesting Thing of the Day to choose topics that I think will be unfamiliar to most readers—a sort of implicit “I’ll-bet-you’ve-never-heard-of-this” test.

Given that the ratio of carbon-14 atoms to carbon-12 atoms in a living thing is a constant, one can determine the number of each in a sample of organic matter (using sensitive equipment to detect the amount of radiation remaining), and then do a little bit of math to determine how long it’s been since the organism expired.

For example, if a sample emits radiation indicating the presence of 10 carbon-14 atoms and we know from its mass that it originally must have contained 20, that means the plant or animal from which the sample was taken died about 5,730 years ago.

Eventually, however, all the carbon-14 atoms will decay—or at least enough of them will that the amount of radiation they emit can no longer be distinguished from ordinary background radiation.

So for all practical purposes, carbon dating is useful only for samples up to about 50,000 years old (though this depends somewhat on the mass of the sample—and some advanced techniques can reliably measure carbon-14 levels low enough to indicate an age of 100,000 years).

In addition, there are trace amounts of the unstable isotope carbon 14C on Earth. The highest rate of carbon production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km 30, to 50, ft.

Then the archeologists employed carbon dating as their standard to decide the age of the objects.

Constants and Change There are other limitations in carbon dating too.Definition of electromagnetism Electromagnetism is the type of magnetism produced by an electric current.Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this article. Print this article Print all interesting facts about radiocarbon dating for this topic Cite this article.So I did a bit of research to fill in the gaps in my understanding, and not surprisingly I found the details to be quite interesting.What did surprise me was the huge number of Web sites and books vigorously attacking the legitimacy of what I had thought was a fairly straightforward, uncontroversial test.

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