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What is carbon dating half life

What is carbon dating half life

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That half-life is critical to radiocarbon dating. Since carbon doesn't decay, it's a good benchmark against which to measure carbon's. Theoretically, if one could detect the amount of carbon in an object, one could establish that object's age using the half-life, or rate of decay, of the isotope.

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While 12C is the most abundant carbon isotope, there is a close to constant ratio of 12C to 14C in the environment, and hence in the molecules, cells, and what is carbons dating half life of living organisms. The half-life of an isotope is defined as the amount of time it takes for there to be half the initial amount of the radioactive isotope present.

Returning to our example of carbon, knowing that the half-life of 14C is years, we can use this to find the constant, k. The half-life for 14C is approximately years, therefore the 14C isotope is only useful for dating fossils up to about 50, years old. For older fossils, an isotope with a longer half-life should be used. For example, the radioactive isotope potassium decays to argon with a half life of 1.

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