Carbon 14 dating definition for kids

I just “happened” to run across another Creation Science radio show to listen to while I’m waiting for a new episode of the Creation Today Show.

Carbon-14, or radiocarbon, is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope that forms when cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere strike nitrogen molecules, which then oxidize to become carbon dioxide.

Green plants absorb the carbon dioxide, so the population of carbon-14 molecules is continually replenished until the plant dies.

Chemically, carbon-14 is no different from non-radioactive carbon atoms, so it ends up in all the usual carbon places — one trillionth of the carbon atoms in air, plants, animals and us are radioactive.

All radioactive atoms eventually decay into something more stable, and carbon-14 decays into nitrogen.

Though still heavily used, relative dating is now augmented by several modern dating techniques.

Radiocarbon dating involves determining the age of an ancient fossil or specimen by measuring its carbon-14 content.

For a rare event it happens pretty damn often — one million carbon-14 atoms in your body decay into nitrogen every minute!

But don't panic — of the 800,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 carbon atoms in every one of us, about 800,000,000,000,000 are carbon-14, so we've got a few to spare.

That question has been niggling at the back of my brain ever since.

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