Carbon 12 dating
ost people think carbon dating can be used to establish the age of anything old.They believe every artifact dug up or discovered by archeologists, anthropologists, geologists, or other scientists can have its age accurately determined, within a narrow range, by carbon dating. Let’s look at carbon-14 dating to discover just how accurate and reliable it really is. First, it is based on the ratio of two elements—carbon 12 (C-12) to carbon 14 (C-14)—found in a sample of the object being dated.The rate of decay is considered constant and measurable, and is expressed by the term “half life.”Half life can be understood, for our purpose, by thinking of a block of ice. The time it takes to melt until it weighs only 5 pounds (half the original weight) is called its “half life.” For this example, let’s say the ice takes five hours to melt from 10 pounds down to 5 pounds. This is not exactly the way C-14 acts, but it serves our purpose.Unlike ice melting, the half life of carbon and other unstable elements is constant.C-14 is constantly being produced when cosmic rays strike the upper atmosphere.
Now, this is based on “knowing” how much C-14 is in the atmosphere when a sample is alive.
When the production rate and the decay rate are equal, the amount of C-14 will be constant. It is possible to measure the rate of production and the rate of decay quite accurately.