Carbon 14 dating equipment
Eventually, all the carbon-14 in the remains will disappear.This principle applies equally to a person dying, a corn stalk being cut down, or to a soybean plant being pulled out of the ground.This half-life is about 5,700 years and means that every 5,700 years the amount of carbon-14 in a fossil is only one-half of what it was 5,700 years ago.It also means that if a dead plant has 50% as much carbon-14 in it than in a living plant, the dead plant was alive about 5,700 years ago.Their bodies are said to be in “equilibrium” with carbon-14 in the air.Although carbon-14 is radioactively decaying away in the body, it is constantly being replaced by new photosynthesis or the ingestion of food, leaving the amount relatively constant.When they stop living, they stop taking in carbon-14 from the air around them, and the amount of carbon-14 in the remains gradually disappears.
Radiocarbon dating uses carbon-14 to determine the last time something (or someone) was alive.
There are exceptions to the theories and relationships introduced below that are beyond the scope of this discussion.
Carbon is the basis of life and is present in all living things.
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This discussion is a simplified introduction to radiocarbon dating.
Radiocarbon immediately reacts with oxygen in the air to form carbon dioxide (CO2).