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It can be used on objects as old as about 62,000 years. Atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes. Most carbon on Earth exists as the very stable isotope carbon-12, with a very small amount as carbon-13.

Here’s an example using the simplest atom, hydrogen. Carbon-14 is an unstable isotope of carbon that will eventually decay at a known rate to become carbon-12.

The samples are crushed and homogenized to produce a fine representative rock powder from which a fraction of a gram is withdrawn and dissolved in the presence of appropriate isotopic traces, or spikes.

is a technique used by scientists to learn the ages of biological specimens – for example, wooden archaeological artifacts or ancient human remains – from the distant past. To understand radiocarbon dating, you first have to understand the word Although an element’s number of protons cannot change, the number of neutrons can vary slightly in each atom.

Because the cosmic ray bombardment is fairly constant, there’s a near-constant level of carbon-14 to carbon-12 ratio in Earth’s atmosphere.

When the rock again cools, the minerals close and again accumulate daughter products to record the time since the second event.

Remarkably, the isotopes remain within the rock sample analyzed, and so a suite of whole rocks can still provide a valid primary age.

I know it hurts right now and is uncomfortable, but growing rarely is comfortable.

He’s been hiding a part of himself from you and that’s never a fun thing to learn.

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