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Carbon datingalso called radiocarbon datingmethod of age determination that depends upon the decay to nitrogen of radiocarbon carbon Radiocarbon present in molecules of atmospheric carbon dioxide enters the biological carbon cycle : it is absorbed from the air by green plants and then passed on to animals through the food chain.
Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually Carbon dating c14 c12 as long as the organism takes in air or food. Once the organism dies, however, it ceases to absorb carbon, so that the amount of the radiocarbon in its tissues steadily decreases. Because carbon 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 carbon method was developed by the American physicist Willard F.
Libby about It has proved to be a versatile technique of dating fossils and archaeological specimens from to 50, years old. The method is widely used by Pleistocene geologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and investigators in related fields. Carbon dating. Additional Info. Print Cite verified Cite. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Facebook Twitter. Give Feedback External Websites.
Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article requires. External Websites. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree See Article History. Britannica Quiz. Know Your Chemistry Quiz. From the elements of the periodic table to the processes that create Carbon dating c14 c12 objects—these are just a few of the things that the science of chemistry can teach us.
Can you filter your way through our chemistry quiz? Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. The occurrence of natural radioactive carbon in the atmosphere provides a unique opportunity to date organic materials as old as roughly 60, years. Unlike most isotopic dating methods, the conventional carbon dating technique is not based on counting daughter…. Likewise, anthropologists and archaeologists apply knowledge of human culture and society to biological findings in order to more fully understand humankind.
Astrobiology arose through the activities of the scientists and engineers concerned with the exploration of space. As a…. History at your fingertips. up here to see what happened On This Dayevery day in your inbox! address.
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Radiocarbon Dating Principles