Radioactive carbon dating process
Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon. Along with hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur, carbon is a building block of biochemical molecules ranging from fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to active substances such as hormones.
Signals of this kind are often used by chemists studying natural environments.Carbon-13 and carbon-14 are thus isotopes of carbon-12.Isotopes participate in the same chemical reactions but often at differing rates.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.It was developed right after World War II by Willard F.
Libby and coworkers, and it has provided a way to determine the ages of different materials in archeology, geology, geophysics, and other branches of science.
Radio carbon dating determines the age of ancient objects by means of measuring the amount of carbon-14 there is left in an object.
A man called Willard F Libby pioneered it at the University of Chicago in the 50's. This is now the most widely used method of age estimation in the field of archaeology.
Carbon-14 is most abundant in atmospheric carbon dioxide because it is constantly being produced by collisions between nitrogen atoms and cosmic rays at the upper limits of the atmosphere.
The rate at which C atoms, half of them will decay in 5730 years.
A hydrocarbon found in beach sediments, for example, might derive from an oil spill or from waxes produced by plants.