Radioactive carbon dating origin of life
Free 5-day trial Ever wonder how scientists concluded the age of the earth to be about 4.6 billion years old or how geologists determined the ages of caverns, rocks, volcanoes, the Himalayas, or even the age of Pompeii bread?
These are both isotopes of the element carbon present in a constant ratio while an organism is living; however, once an organism dies, the ratio of carbon-14 decreases as the isotope deteriorates.
Radiocarbon dating can only be used to date items back to as far as about 50,000 years old.
When scientists find a sample, they measure the amount of the original, or parent, isotope and compare it to the amount of the decay product formed.
They then count the number of half-lives passed and compute the absolute age of the sample.
Each element is made up of atoms, and within each atom is a central particle called a nucleus.