What carbon dating
Try it risk-free Ever wondered how scientists know the age of old bones in an ancient site or how old a scrap of linen is?The technique used is called carbon dating, and in this lesson we will learn what this is and how it is used. Carbon dating, or radiocarbon dating, is a method used to date materials that once exchanged carbon dioxide with the atmosphere. In the late 1940s, an American physical chemist named Willard Libby first developed a method to measure radioactivity of carbon-14, a radioactive isotope.It is often used on valuable artwork to confirm authenticity.For example, look at this image of the opening of King Tutankhamen's tomb near Luxor, Egypt during the 1920s.Atmospheric carbon-14 rapidly reacts with oxygen in air to form carbon dioxide and enters the carbon cycle.
Notice that the nitrogen-14 atom is recreated and goes back into the cycle.
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However, once the organism dies, the amount of carbon-14 steadily decreases.
By measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in the organism, it's possible to work out how old it is.
The half-life is the time required for half of the original sample of radioactive nuclei to decay.