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    What is radiocarbon dating of fossils

    Carbon-14 dating is a way of determining the age of certain archeological artifacts of a biological origin up to about 50,000 years old.It is used in dating things such as bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers that were created in the relatively recent past by human activities.­ ­As soon as a living organism dies, it stops taking in new carbon.The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 at the moment of death is the same as every other living thing, but the carbon-14 decays and is not replaced.A shellfish alive today in a lake within a limestone catchment, for instance, will yield a radiocarbon date which is excessively old.The reason for this anomaly is that the limestone, which is weathered and dissolved into bicarbonate, has no radioactive carbon.What methods do they use and how do these methods work?

    By looking at the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the sample and comparing it to the ratio in a living organism, it is possible to determine the age of a formerly living thing fairly precisely. So, if you had a fossil that had 10 percent carbon-14 compared to a living sample, then that fossil would be: t = [ ln (0.10) / (-0.693) ] x 5,700 years t = [ (-2.303) / (-0.693) ] x 5,700 years t = [ 3.323 ] x 5,700 years Because the half-life of carbon-14 is 5,700 years, it is only reliable for dating objects up to about 60,000 years old.A child mummy is found high in the Andes and the archaeologist says the child lived more than 2,000 years ago.How do scientists know how old an object or human remains are?Thus, it dilutes the activity of the lake meaning that the radioactivity is depleted in comparison to 14C activity elsewhere.The lake, in this case, has a different radiocarbon reservoir than that of the majority of the radiocarbon in the biosphere and therefore an accurate radiocarbon age requires that a correction be made to account for it.

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