Carbon 14 dating history
Though still heavily used, relative dating is now augmented by several modern dating techniques.Radiocarbon dating involves determining the age of an ancient fossil or specimen by measuring its carbon-14 content.An example of the ingenious technical work and hard-fought debates underlying the main story is the use of radioactive carbon-14 to assign dates to the distant past.
After death the amount of carbon-14 in the organic specimen decreases very regularly as the molecules decay.
There are three carbon isotopes that occur as part of the Earth's natural processes; these are carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14.
The unstable nature of carbon 14 (with a precise half-life that makes it easy to measure) means it is ideal as an absolute dating method.
The radioactive isotope carbon-14 is created in the upper atmosphere when cosmic-ray particles from outer space strike nitrogen atoms and transform them into radioactive carbon.
Some of the carbon-14 might find its way into living creatures.