Radioactive carbon dating is the most common method used to date fossils
of human origin or artifacts from ancient human civilizations. The
isotope of carbon 14 is used, as it has an effective short of decay of 5,725 years where it decays to nitrogen 14 ,
and it is found in minute concentrations in virtually all organic
compounds on Earth. Carbon 14 is present in known concentrations in the
atmosphere and in all plants and animals involved in the exchange of CO2
gas through processes of respiration. After a plant or animal has died
and is sealed off from further exposure to the air, the amount of carbon
14 slowly diminishes in the remains, as well as in the surrounding
soil. This variation can be compared to atmospheric concentrations to
determine a rough age for when the creature died, or when an inorganic
artifact was buried in the soil near organic remains.
Feb 2nd, 2015
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