Simple definition of radiocarbon dating
Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope and is present in all living things in a constant amount.
It is often used on valuable artwork to confirm authenticity.
For example, look at this image of the opening of King Tutankhamen's tomb near Luxor, Egypt during the 1920s.
Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in 1960.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contains a constant amount of carbon-14, and as long as an organism is living, the amount of carbon-14 inside it is the same as the atmosphere.
You might remember that it was mentioned earlier that the amount of carbon-14 in living things is the same as the atmosphere.
Once they die, they stop taking in carbon-14, and the amount present starts to decrease at a constant half-life rate.
This technique works well for materials up to around 50,000 years old.
Each radioactive isotope decays by a fixed amount, and this amount is called the half-life.
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