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Carbon 14 dating

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Carbon-14 is used for dating because it is unstable (radioactive), whereas 12 C and 13 C are stable. Radioactive means that 14 C will decay (emit radiation) over time and become a different element. During this process (called “beta decay”) a neutron in the 14 C atom will be converted into a proton. By losing one neutron and gaining one proton, 14 C is changed into nitrogen-14 ( 14 N = 7 protons and 7 neutrons).

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In living things, although 14 C atoms are constantly changing back to 14 N, they are still exchanging carbon with their surroundings, so the mixture remains about the same as in the atmosphere. However, as soon as a plant or animal dies, the 14 C atoms which decay are no longer replaced, so the amount of 14 C in that once-living thing decreases as time goes on. In other words, the 14 C/ 12 C ratio gets smaller. So, we have a “clock” which starts ticking the moment something dies.

11-6-2017  · Ingevoegde video  · What I want to do in this video is kind of introduce you to the idea of, one, how carbon-14 comes about, and how it gets into all living things. …

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carbon 14 dating

Carbon-14 is used for dating because it is unstable (radioactive), whereas 12 C and 13 C are stable. Radioactive means that 14 C will decay (emit radiation) over time and become a different element. During this process (called “beta decay”) a neutron in the 14 C atom will be converted into a proton. By losing one neutron and gaining one proton, 14 C is changed into nitrogen-14 ( 14 N = 7 protons and 7 neutrons).

In living things, although 14 C atoms are constantly changing back to 14 N, they are still exchanging carbon with their surroundings, so the mixture remains about the same as in the atmosphere. However, as soon as a plant or animal dies, the 14 C atoms which decay are no longer replaced, so the amount of 14 C in that once-living thing decreases as time goes on. In other words, the 14 C/ 12 C ratio gets smaller. So, we have a “clock” which starts ticking the moment something dies.

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.