Start Outline a method for dating fossils using 14c

Outline a method for dating fossils using 14c

When a plant or animal dies it stops taking in carbon-14 and radioactive decay begins to decrease the amount of carbon-14 in the tissues.

However, once the organism dies, the amount of carbon-14 steadily decreases.

By measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in the organism, it's possible to work out how old it is.

Scientists often use the value of 10 half-lives to indicate when a radioactive isotope will be gone, or rather, when a very negligible amount is still left.

The technique used is called carbon dating, and in this lesson we will learn what this is and how it is used. Carbon dating, or radiocarbon dating, is a method used to date materials that once exchanged carbon dioxide with the atmosphere. In the late 1940s, an American physical chemist named Willard Libby first developed a method to measure radioactivity of carbon-14, a radioactive isotope.

This technique works well for materials up to around 50,000 years old.

Each radioactive isotope decays by a fixed amount, and this amount is called the half-life.

Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in 1960.