Carbon 14 radioisotope dating
Each sample type has specific problems associated with its use for dating purposes, including contamination and special environmental effects.
More information on the sources of error in carbon dating are presented at the bottom of this page.
Carbon dioxide is distributed on a worldwide basis into various atmospheric, biospheric, and hydrospheric reservoirs on a time scale much shorter than its half-life.
Measurements have shown that in recent history, radiocarbon levels have remained relatively constant in most of the biosphere due to the metabolic processes in living organisms and the relatively rapid turnover of carbonates in surface ocean waters.
Many people have been led to believe that radiometric dating methods have proved the earth to be billions of years old.
To measure the amount of radiocarbon left in a artifact, scientists burn a small piece to convert it into carbon dioxide gas.
The method was developed immediately following World War II by Willard F.
Libby and coworkers and has provided age determinations in archeology, geology, geophysics, and other branches of science.
Radiation counters are used to detect the electrons given off by decaying C-14 as it turns into nitrogen.
The amount of C-14 is compared to the amount of C-12, the stable form of carbon, to determine how much radiocarbon has decayed, thereby dating the artifact.
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The number of neutrons in the nucleus can vary in any given type of atom.