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Radiocarbon dating works by comparing the three different isotopes of carbon.Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons.They have masses of 13 and 14 respectively and are referred to as "carbon-13" and "carbon-14." If two atoms have equal numbers of protons but differing numbers of neutrons, one is said to be an "isotope" of the other.Carbon-13 and carbon-14 are thus isotopes of carbon-12.Libby’s discovery, now known as the carbon-14 (or radiocarbon) technique, was a method that could be used to determine the age of organic remains.
Basis of Radiocarbon Dating Problems with Radiocarbon Dating The Earth's Magnetic Field Table 1 Effect of Increasing Earth's Magnetic Field Removal of Carbon From the Biosphere Water Vapour Canopy Effect on Radiocarbon Dating Figure 1 Apparent Radiocarbon Dates Heartwood and Frozen Time Early Post-Flood Trees Appendix Radiocarbon Date Table HOW ACCURATE IS RADIOCARBON DATING? The normal carbon atom has six protons and six neutrons in its nucleus, giving a total atomic mass of 12.
This atom is not stable, and will break down, releasing nuclear energy in the process.
Radioactive carbon (Carbon 14) is formed in the upper atmosphere as a byproduct of cosmic radiation.
Each carbon-12 atom takes up two neutrons and is converted into a radioactive carbon-14 atom.
Radioactive carbon-14 atoms rapidly mix and become uniform throughout the atmosphere.
Radiocarbon dating is frequently used to date ancient human settlements or tools. It is a stable atom that will not change its atomic mass under normal circumstances.