Prometheus carbon dating

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Various geologic, atmospheric and solar processes can influence atmospheric carbon-14 levels.

Since the 1960s, scientists have started accounting for the variations by calibrating the clock against the known ages of tree rings.

This is how carbon dating works: Carbon is a naturally abundant element found in the atmosphere, in the earth, in the oceans, and in every living creature.

C-12 is by far the most common isotope, while only about one in a trillion carbon atoms is C-14.

Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food.

Once the organism dies, however, it ceases to absorb carbon-14, so that the amount of the radiocarbon in its tissues steadily decreases.

The period of time that it takes for half of a sample to decay is called a "half-life." Radiocarbon oxidizes (that is, it combines with oxygen) and enters the biosphere through natural processes like breathing and eating.

It is naturally unstable and so it will spontaneously decay back into N-14 after a period of time.

It takes about 5,730 years for half of a sample of radiocarbon to decay back into nitrogen.

Scientists use a technique called radiometric dating to estimate the ages of rocks, fossils, and the earth.

Many people have been led to believe that radiometric dating methods have proved the earth to be billions of years old.

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