The math behind radiocarbon dating

Published on September 30th, 2011 | by Admin


I was just reading the latest issue of Wired on my iPad and came across this cool article which explains the math behind radiocarbon dating.

Living things constantly consume carbon—through photosynthesis, for plants, and for animals, ingestion of those plants. The atmospheric ratio of carbon-14 to regular carbon-12 remains consistent at one part per trillion, so if something is alive, one-trillionth of its carbon atoms will be C-14. But once a plant or animal dies, its carbon-14 is no longer replenished. C-14 is radioactive and unstable, with a half-life of 5,730 years, which means that half the atoms will turn back into nitrogen over that period. That rate of decay is key to gauging age.

[Full story]

Story: Julie Rehmeyer, Wired | Photo: Mario Hugo, Wired

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Follow me on Twitter!   Subscribe to my RSS feed!
  • Question of the Moment

    History in the making. November 8, 2016.

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Like us on Facebook

  • Art Artifacts Bones Burials China Construction Egypt Egyptians England Food & Drink Fossils Humans Israel Italy Medieval Remains Romans Scotland Shipwrecks Tombs Turkey Underwater WWII
  • Archives