Chemistry behind carbon dating
For carbon-14, it gives off an electron and an antineutrino forming stable nitrogen.Radioactive samples, like carbon-14, decay at very predictable and measurable rates.For reasons that physics doesn’t fully understand, atoms like to have very particular ratios of neutrons to protons.If they aren’t in a happy ratio, they decay and give off particles or radiation until they are in an optimal ratio of neutrons to protons.
This is a concern because as the global CO2 levels increase, so does the acidity of rain, the ocean, and freshwater.
You and all other animals are made up of carbon fixed by plants (and nitrogen fixed by bacteria! So, if some of that carbon from plants/water is radioactive, so are you! For carbon-14 radiometric dating to be accurate, a fossil or artifact must be buried to avoid exposure to recently fixed radioactive carbon.
When researchers find a bone or artifact, how do they know how old it is?
While there are a number of answers to that question, most of which depend largely on the age and surroundings of the item, carbon dating is surely one of the most important.
What do you get when you subtract one proton from nitrogen? But not any old carbon – you get a radioactive form called carbon-14 (the number ’14’ is the number of protons and neutrons the isotope has).
During photosynthesis plants turn carbon dioxide into sugar.