How carbon dating works

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Rather, it's a way to determine the age of organic remains such as bone, teeth, and seeds by finding out how much carbon-14 is left in the remains. At the very least you'll find out what it's like to date a 9,000-year-old skeleton such as Kennewick Man's.

Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food.

The following article is primarily based on a discussion of radiocarbon dating found in The Biblical Chronologist Volume 5, Number 1. Radiocarbon dating is based on a few relatively simple principles. The vast majority of these are C (pronounced "c twelve"), the stable isotope of carbon.

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"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.

This argument was popularized by Henry Morris (1974, p.164), who used some calculations done in 1968 by Melvin Cook to get the 10,000-year figure. Whitelaw, using a greater ratio of carbon-14 production to decay, concluded that only 5000 years passed since carbon-14 started forming in the atmosphere!

The argument may be compared to filling a barrel which has numerous small holes in its sides.

Because carbon-14 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 method was developed by Willard Libby in the late 1940s and soon became a standard tool for archaeologists.

Libby received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960.

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