Atomic accelerator carbon dating

Upon reaching the earth’s surface, a small percentage of carbon-14 containing carbon dioxide is taken up by plants and then incorporation into plant biomolecules via photosynthesis.

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Carbon-13 and carbon-14 are thus isotopes of carbon-12.

Isotopes participate in the same chemical reactions but often at differing rates.

The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that plant and animal tissue levels of carbon-14 remain relatively constant during life, but taper off at a predictable rate in surviving remains. Typically, traces of radiocarbon can be detected in organic remains up to 50,000 years old.

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.

All carbon atoms have a nucleus containing six protons.

Ninety-nine percent of these also contain six neutrons.The rate of cosmic rays which hit the Earth depends on two very slowly changing factors: the solar activity and the Earth's magnetic field.This latter serves as a shield against all cosmic radiation - when its strength goes down, the bombardment increases, as does the number of carbon 14 atoms.The carbon 14 present in the atmosphere is constantly renewed.The cosmic rays originating from the Sun collide with nuclei in the upper atmosphere and are capable of breaking off individual neutrons.It is one of several similarly formed cosmogenic nuclides.

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