Carbon dating basics

After viewing the video on carbon dating, use your newfound knowledge to: Did you know…

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For the record, a beta-particle is a specific type of nuclear decay. Image 1 shows carbon-14 production by high energy neutrons hitting nitrogen-14 atoms, while in Image 2, carbon-14 naturally decomposes through beta-particle production.

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This technique works well for materials up to around 50,000 years old.

Each radioactive isotope decays by a fixed amount, and this amount is called the half-life.

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Once the organism dies, the amount of carbon-14 reduces by the fixed half-life - or the time required for half of the original sample of radioactive nuclei to decay - of 5,730 years, and can be measured by scientists for up to 10 half-lives.

Measuring the amount of radioactive carbon-14 remaining makes it possible to work out how old the artifact is, whether it's a fossilized skeleton or a magnificent piece of artwork.

You might remember that it was mentioned earlier that the amount of carbon-14 in living things is the same as the atmosphere.

Once they die, they stop taking in carbon-14, and the amount present starts to decrease at a constant half-life rate.

The half-life is the time required for half of the original sample of radioactive nuclei to decay.