Chemistry behind carbon dating
You probably have seen or read news stories about fascinating ancient artifacts.
At an archaeological dig, a piece of wooden tool is unearthed and the archaeologist finds it to be 5,000 years old.
A child mummy is found high in the Andes and the archaeologist says the child lived more than 2,000 years ago.
How do scientists know how old an object or human remains are?
Ninety-nine percent of these also contain six neutrons.
The 6 proton 6 neutron atoms are said to have a mass of 12 and are referred to as "carbon-12." The nuclei of the remaining one percent of carbon atoms contain not six but either seven or eight neutrons in addition to the standard six protons.
Along with hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur, carbon is a building block of biochemical molecules ranging from fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to active substances such as hormones.
Carbon-13 and carbon-14 are thus isotopes of carbon-12.Isotopes participate in the same chemical reactions but often at differing rates.When isotopes are to be designated specifically, the chemical symbol is expanded to identify the mass (for example, C is not stable.What methods do they use and how do these methods work?
In this article, we will examine the methods by which scientists use radioactivity to determine the age of objects, most notably carbon-14 dating.
Carbon-14 dating can be used on objects ranging from a few hundred years old to 50,000 years old.