Most authorities agree that C-14 decays at such a rate that half of it will be gone in approximately 5,730 years.This means if a specimen contained, say, a pound of C-14 (to make things understandable), in 5,730 years, half of it will be gone, and in another 5,730 years, half of the remaining C-14 will disappear.While this doesn’t render the dating method useless, it does bring its overall accuracy into question.How radioactive carbon is formed Normal carbon atoms weigh 12 atomic mass units, while a radioactive form of carbon weighs 14 atomic mass units, which is called carbon-14 (C-14). It is estimated that only one out of every trillion carbon atoms is C-14.Misconception #2: Carbon dating can be used to date virtually anything Another misconception people have about carbon dating is that it can be used to date virtually anything.Carbon dating can only be used to date objects that were once living or even apart of a living organism. It cannot be used to directly date inorganic objects, such as rocks (other radioactive dating methods are used to date radioactive rocks).Since plants breath carbon dioxide, they will intake some C-14 as well and make it part of their tissue.
Many people mistakenly believe carbon dating can be used to date objects that are millions or even billions of years old.Since C-14 is so well distributed in the atmosphere, it is assumed the same ratio that is in the atmosphere will also be in an organism.How carbon dating is supposed to work Once an organism dies, its C-14 decay is no longer being replaced by intake.Therefore, all the C-14 remaining in the organism will eventually decay and disappear.If one can measure the rate in which it decays, and the amount the organism started off with, then one might be able to figure out when the organism, such as a frog, croaked.
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For this reason, I will have to bite the bullet and accept that it is reasonable to assume the decay rate is constant (even though I give this assumption, this doesn’t mean the decay rate is constant.