How is radiocarbon dating done

Organisms at the base of the food chain that photosynthesize – for example, plants and algae – use the carbon in Earth’s atmosphere.They have the same ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 as the atmosphere, and this same ratio is then carried up the food chain all the way to apex predators, like sharks.However, radioisotope dating may not work so well in the future.Anything that dies after the 1940s, when Nuclear bombs, nuclear reactors and open-air nuclear tests started changing things, will be harder to date precisely.

Potassium-40 is another radioactive element naturally found in your body and has a half-life of 1.3 billion years.Bottom line: is a technique used by scientists to learn the ages of biological specimens – for example, wooden archaeological artifacts or ancient human remains – from the distant past.Follow the links in this post to learn more about radiocarbon dating.In The Cosmic Story of Carbon-14 Ethan Siegel writes: The only major fluctuation [in carbon-14] we know of occurred when we began detonating nuclear weapons in the open air, back in the mid-20th Century.If you ever wondered why nuclear tests are now performed underground, this is why.

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