Radiocarbon dating is a method that provides objective age estimates for content then starts to decrease at a rate determined by the law of radioactive decay.
Table of contents
- How Carbon-14 Dating Works
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- What is Radiocarbon Dating?
- How Does Carbon Dating Work
- Illustrative Mathematics
Likewise, anthropologists and archaeologists apply knowledge of human culture and society to biological findings in order to more fully understand humankind. Astrobiology arose through the activities of the scientists and engineers concerned with the exploration of space.
Scientists are now able to make age determinations from much smaller samples and to make them much more rapidly than by radioactive counting, but carbon proved to be a considerably more difficult problem for instrumental development than the other cosmogenic isotopes. Applications use in archaeology In archaeology: Dating art forgery detection In forgery: Detection of forgeries in the visual arts biology In biology: The emergence of Mesopotamian civilization radiometric dating In Holocene Epoch: Chronology and correlation View More.
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How Carbon-14 Dating Works
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What is Radiocarbon Dating?
And then either later in this video or in future videos we'll talk about how it's actually used to date things, how we use it actually figure out that that bone is 12, years old, or that person died 18, years ago, whatever it might be. So let me draw the Earth. So let me just draw the surface of the Earth like that. It's just a little section of the surface of the Earth.
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And then we have the atmosphere of the Earth. I'll draw that in yellow. So then you have the Earth's atmosphere right over here. Let me write that down, atmosphere. And I'll write nitrogen. Its symbol is just N. And it has seven protons, and it also has seven neutrons. So it has an atomic mass of roughly Then this is the most typical isotope of nitrogen. And we talk about the word isotope in the chemistry playlist. An isotope, the protons define what element it is. But this number up here can change depending on the number of neutrons you have.
So the different versions of a given element, those are each called isotopes. I just view in my head as versions of an element. So anyway, we have our atmosphere, and then coming from our sun, we have what's commonly called cosmic rays, but they're actually not rays. You can view them as just single protons, which is the same thing as a hydrogen nucleus.
They can also be alpha particles, which is the same thing as a helium nucleus. And there's even a few electrons. And they're going to come in, and they're going to bump into things in our atmosphere, and they're actually going to form neutrons. So they're actually going to form neutrons. And we'll show a neutron with a lowercase n, and a 1 for its mass number. And we don't write anything, because it has no protons down here. Like we had for nitrogen, we had seven protons. So it's not really an element. It is a subatomic particle. But you have these neutrons form.
How Does Carbon Dating Work
And every now and then-- and let's just be clear-- this isn't like a typical reaction. But every now and then one of those neutrons will bump into one of the nitrogen's in just the right way so that it bumps off one of the protons in the nitrogen and essentially replaces that proton with itself. So let me make it clear. So it bumps off one of the protons.
So instead of seven protons we now have six protons. But this number 14 doesn't go down to 13 because it replaces it with itself. So this still stays at And now since it only has six protons, this is no longer nitrogen, by definition. This is now carbon. And that proton that was bumped off just kind of gets emitted. So then let me just do that in another color.
And a proton that's just flying around, you could call that hydrogen 1.
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And it can gain an electron some ways. If it doesn't gain an electron, it's just a hydrogen ion, a positive ion, either way, or a hydrogen nucleus. But this process-- and once again, it's not a typical process, but it happens every now and then-- this is how carbon forms. So this right here is carbon You can essentially view it as a nitrogen where one of the protons is replaced with a neutron.
And what's interesting about this is this is constantly being formed in our atmosphere, not in huge quantities, but in reasonable quantities. So let me write this down.
And let me be very clear. Let's look at the periodic table over here. So carbon by definition has six protons, but the typical isotope, the most common isotope of carbon is carbon So carbon is the most common. So most of the carbon in your body is carbon But what's interesting is that a small fraction of carbon forms, and then this carbon can then also combine with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.