Related to radiometric dating: Carbon 14 dating. A method for determining the age of an object based on the concentration of a particular radioactive isotope contained within it and the half-life of that isotope. All rights reserved. Also called: radioactive dating. Copyright , , by Random House, Inc.
When we speak of the element Carbon, we most often refer to the most naturally abundant stable isotope 12 C. Although 12 C is definitely essential to life, its unstable sister isotope 14 C has become of extreme importance to the science world. Radiocarbon dating is the process of determining the age of a sample by examining the amount of 14 C remaining against its known half-life, 5, years. The reason this process works is because when organisms are alive, they are constantly replenishing their 14 C supply through respiration, providing them with a constant amount of the isotope. However, when an organism ceases to exist, it no longer takes in carbon from its environment and the unstable 14 C isotope begins to decay. From this science, we are able to approximate the date at which the organism lived on Earth. Radiocarbon dating is used in many fields to learn information about the past conditions of organisms and the environments present on Earth.
See radiocarbon dating. All rights reserved. A technique used in determining the age of an archaeological find based on establishing how much it contains of carbon, which decays at a known rate. Switch to new thesaurus. Based on WordNet 3.
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