Carbon dating or

If it weren’t for the amiability of carbon, simple organic matter couldn’t have evolved to achieve the extraordinary, inscrutable complexity it now boasts: the complexity to develop a system to sense, to breathe, to digest, to excrete and in a lean, hairless primate, even a system to think.

Measuring the quantity of this radioactive carbon in organic matter allows us to determine its age; the method of doing so is called radioactive carbon dating or, simply, carbon dating. Carbon has a twin brother that only a few know about.

Because the radiocarbon is radioactive, it will slowly decay away.And given the fact that the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 in living organisms is approximately 1 : 1.35x10 In actually measuring these quantities, we take advantage of the fact that the rate of decay (how many radioactive emissions occur per unit time) is dependent on how many atoms there are in a sample (this criteria leads to an exponential decay rate).We have devices to measure the radioactivity of a sample, and the ratio described above translates into a rate of 15.6 decays/min per gram of carbon in a living sample.Some notes: 1) Obviously, this technique only works for dead organic material.2) This technique is best for dating items which died between on the order of 1000 to on the order of 1,000,000 years ago.

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