Facts of carbon dating

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One of the most frequent uses of radiocarbon dating is to estimate the age of organic remains from archaeological sites.

Carbon dating, also known as radiocarbon dating, is a method of estimating the age of carbon-bearing materials up to 60,000 years old.

Arrange carbon atoms in one way, and they become soft, pliable graphite. — the atoms form diamond, one of the hardest materials in the world.

When a plant or animal organism dies, however, the exchange of radiocarbon from the atmosphere and the biosphere stops, and the amount of radiocarbon gradually decreases, with a half-life of approximately 5730 years.

It has become my custom here at Interesting Thing of the Day to choose topics that I think will be unfamiliar to most readers—a sort of implicit “I’ll-bet-you’ve-never-heard-of-this” test.

I think it’s fair to say that any educated person over the age of 10 or so has probably heard of carbon dating.

High in the atmosphere, cosmic rays strike nitrogen atoms, producing a radioactive carbon isotope known as carbon-14 (or .

Carbon-14, along with the more common, stable (nonradioactive) carbon isotopes carbon-12 and carbon-13, combine with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide.

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