Start Carbon 14 dating definition for kids

Carbon 14 dating definition for kids

At high geomagnetic latitudes, the carbon-14 spreads evenly throughout the atmosphere and reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.

Plants take in atmospheric carbon dioxide by photosynthesis, and are ingested by animals.

So, every living thing is constantly exchanging carbon-14 with its environment as long as it lives. The carbon in its body will remain until it decomposes or fossilizes.

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Perhaps the earth was made from older pre-existing matter, or perhaps decay rates were briefly faster for some reason.

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 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.

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co.