Notes on carbon dating

He first noted that the cells of all living things contain atoms taken in from the organism's environment, including carbon; all organic compounds contain carbon.Most carbon consists of the isotopes carbon 12 and carbon 13, which are very stable.The Carbon-14 within a living organism is continually decaying, but as the organism is continuously absorbing Carbon-14 throughout its life the ratio of Carbon-14 to Carbon-12 atoms in the organism is the same as the ratio in the atmosphere.Once an organism dies it stops taking in Carbon in any form.

Carbon 14 has a half-life of 5,780 years, and is continuously created in Earth's atmosphere through the interaction of nitrogen and gamma rays from outer space.

The article is in straightforward language and the non-technical reader could profitably work through it.

, we find that this ration is the same if we sample a leaf from a tree, or a part of your body.

Think of it like a teaspoon of cocoa mixed into a cake dough—after a while, the ‘ratio’ of cocoa to flour particles would be roughly the same no matter which part of the cake you sampled.

The fact that the C doesn’t matter in a living thing—because it is constantly exchanging carbon with its surroundings, the ‘mixture’ will be the same as in the atmosphere and in all living things.


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