Mathematics of carbon dating

The older a sample is, the less (the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed) is about 5,730 years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50,000 years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples.The idea behind radiocarbon dating is straightforward, but years of work were required to develop the technique to the point where accurate dates could be obtained.The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.The resulting radiocarbon combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis; animals then acquire in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.

The half-life of a radioactive isotope describes the amount of time that it takes half of the isotope in a sample to decay.Though using similar methods, these two techniques differ in certain ways that will be discussed in this article.As the name implies, relative dating can tell which of the two artifacts is older.It is possible to tell the number of years ago a particular rock or archeological site had been formed.Two broad categories of classification methods are relative dating and absolute dating.

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