Radioactive carbon dating video


Carbon-14 is radioactive, with a half-life of about 5,700 years.For more information on cosmic rays and half-life, as well as the process of radioactive decay, see How Nuclear Radiation Works.The ratio of normal carbon (carbon-12) to carbon-14 in the air and in all living things at any given time is nearly constant.Maybe one in a trillion carbon atoms are carbon-14.No other scientific method has managed to revolutionize man’s understanding not only of his present but also of events that already happened thousands of years ago.Archaeology and other human sciences use radiocarbon dating to prove or disprove theories.It is not uncommon for a cosmic ray to collide with an atom in the atmosphere, creating a secondary cosmic ray in the form of an energetic neutron, and for these energetic neutrons to collide with nitrogen atoms.



Radiocarbon activity of materials in the background is also determined to remove its contribution from results obtained during a sample analysis.Liquid scintillation counting is another radiocarbon dating technique that was popular in the 1960s.In this method, the sample is in liquid form and a scintillator is added.­The carbon-14 atoms that cosmic rays create combine with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, which plants absorb naturally and incorporate into plant fibers by photosynthesis.

Animals and people eat plants and take in carbon-14 as well.

The method does not count beta particles but the number of carbon atoms present in the sample and the proportion of the isotopes. Samples that have been radiocarbon dated since the inception of the method include charcoal, wood, twigs, seeds, bones, shells, leather, peat, lake mud, soil, hair, pottery, pollen, wall paintings, corals, blood residues, fabrics, paper or parchment, resins, and water, among others.



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