Radiocarbon dating for kids

Plants take up atmospheric carbon dioxide by photosynthesis, and are eaten by animals, so every living thing is constantly exchanging carbon-14 with its environment as long as it lives. In 1958 Hessel de Vries showed that the concentration of carbon-14 in the atmosphere varies with time and locality.The relatively short-lived C taken into organic matter is also slightly variable. However, under about 20,000 years the results can be compared with dendrochronology, based on tree rings.What methods do they use and how do these methods work?

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At an ar­chaeological dig, a piece of wooden tool is unearthed and the archaeologist finds it to be 5,000 years old.

When beta particles are emitted, the scintillator will emit a flash of light.

When both of the detectors present pick up the flash, it is counted and used to calculate the amount of carbon-14 present.

Atmospheric nuclear weapon tests almost doubled the concentration of Radiocarbon dating, also known as the C14 dating method, is a way of telling how old an object is. This makes it possible to tell the age of substances that contain carbon. Dates obtained are usually written as before present ('present' is 1950).

Carbon has different isotopes, which are usually not radioactive.

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