In this section we will explore the use of carbon dating to determine the age of fossil remains. Carbon is a key element in biologically important molecules. During the lifetime of an organism, carbon is brought into the cell from the environment in the form of either carbon dioxide or carbon-based food molecules such as glucose; then used to build biologically important molecules such as sugars, proteins, fats, and nucleic acids. These molecules are subsequently incorporated into the cells and tissues that make up living things. Therefore, organisms from a single-celled bacteria to the largest of the dinosaurs leave behind carbon-based remains. Carbon dating is based upon the decay of 14 C, a radioactive isotope of carbon with a relatively long half-life years.
How Carbon-14 Dating Works
How Carbon Dating Works | HowStuffWorks
Carbon dating is a technique used to determine the approximate age of once-living materials. It is based on the decay rate of the radioactive carbon isotope C, a form of carbon taken in by all living organisms while they are alive. Before the twentieth century, determining the age of ancient artifacts was considered the job of archaeologists, not nuclear physicists. By comparing the placement of objects with the age of the rock and silt layers in which they were found, archeologists could usually make a general estimate of their age. However, many objects were found in caves, frozen in ice, or in other areas whose ages were not known; in these cases, it was clear that a method for dating the actual object was necessary.
This episode aired on November 1, George takes Sheldon to a lecture on carbon dating, which is also being attended by Paige. While waiting in a restaurant, he is separately approached by Paige's parents, whose marriage is precarious because of the demands of raising Paige. The children become bored by the lecture and wander into a closed area of the museum. Meanwhile, Meemaw is holding a garage sale, and becomes upset by the sight of John wearing her dead husband's jacket.
When news is announced on the discovery of an archaeological find, we often hear about how the age of the sample was determined using radiocarbon dating, otherwise simply known as carbon dating. Deemed the gold standard of archaeology, the method was developed in the late s and is based on the idea that radiocarbon carbon 14 is being constantly created in the atmosphere by cosmic rays which then combine with atmospheric oxygen to form CO2, which is then incorporated into plants during photosynthesis. When the plant or animal that consumed the foliage dies, it stops exchanging carbon with the environment and from there on in it is simply a case of measuring how much carbon 14 has been emitted, giving its age. But new research conducted by Cornell University could be about to throw the field of archaeology on its head with the claim that there could be a number of inaccuracies in commonly accepted carbon dating standards. If this is true, then many of our established historical timelines are thrown into question, potentially needing a re-write of the history books.