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Radioactive and radiocarbon dating

Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food.Once the organism dies, however, it ceases to absorb carbon-14, so that the amount of the radiocarbon in its tissues steadily decreases.One standard deviation has a 68% probability and two standard deviations have a 95% probability.Radiocarbon dating has had an enormous impact on archaeology around the world since it made it possible to date carbon and wood could be directly without dependence on characteristic artifacts or written historical records.The C-14 method cannot be used on material more than about 50,000 years old because of this short half-life.Other isotopes are used by geologists to date older material.

Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon.The number of neutrons in the nucleus can vary in any given type of atom.So, a carbon atom might have six neutrons, or seven, or possibly eight—but it would always have six protons.One is for potentially dating fossils (once-living things) using carbon-14 dating, and the other is for dating rocks and the age of the earth using uranium, potassium and other radioactive atoms.The atomic number corresponds to the number of protons in an atom.

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