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Carbon dating methods in biology


People began to relax once they understood that the science of dating is not so difficult. Then I surprised them, “The problem is that six hours is the wrong answer.”

Plants obtain all their carbon atoms from the atmosphere. Thus, the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in a living plant is the same as the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in the atmosphere at any given time. Animals (and humans) get their carbon atoms primarily from what they eat (., plants). Thus the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in living animal tissue is also virtually the same as the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in the atmosphere at any given time. This ratio is the same for all organisms across the globe at a given time due to the mixing of the atmosphere mentioned above.

A lot of atoms are stable. Some are not. There exists different versions, or isotopes of many elements. These isotopes differ in the number of neutrons they have in their nuclei. Those isotopes that are not stable decay into daughter nuclei. Those that did the decaying are called parent nuclei. If you have a rock that contains radioactive isotopes, these will decay over time. As time goes on, the ratio of the parent to daughter nuclei will change and decrease (as more parent nuclei decay into daughter nuclei, the former decreases and the latter increases). Measuring this ratio gives us an idea of how long ago the rock formed.


Carbon dating methods in biology

Carbon dating methods in biology