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I have tried here to answer some of the frequently asked questions that I receive from students via email, as well as providing some basic information about scientific dating methods."Everything which has come down to us from heathendom is wrapped in a thick fog; it belongs to a space of time we cannot measure.Welcome to the K12 section of the Radiocarbon WEBinfo site.The aim here is to provide clear, understandable information relating to radiocarbon dating for the benefit of K12 students, as well as lay people who are not requiring detailed information about the method of radiocarbon dating itself.And you can look at their tree rings, and I think most of us are familiar with this idea that every year that a tree grows, it forms another layer of bark.And so you can look back to that layer of bark just for the half life of carbon-14, and then figure out how much carbon-14 was there in the atmosphere at that period in time. Those are those speleothems that are kind of coming out of the bottom of the cave, or stalactites.Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. 1979, 1986 © Harper Collins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012 Cite This Source radiocarbon dating A technique for measuring the age of organic remains based on the rate of decay of carbon 14.
Most carbon consists of the isotopes carbon 12 and carbon 13, which are very stable.
A very small percentage of carbon, however, consists of the isotope carbon 14, or radiocarbon, which is unstable.
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.
Radioactive elements were incorporated into the Earth when the Solar System formed.
All rocks and minerals contain tiny amounts of these radioactive elements.
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And if it isn't constant, how do you calibrate your measurement so you can actually figure out how much carbon-14 there is relative to living plants and animals at that time?