Carbon dating questions answers
In addition, such a test obviously works only on the remains of things that were once alive, such as bones or wooden parts of an old structure.
Deep oceans, the biosphere, and carbonate rocks are giant reservoirs of carbon and with the addition of the atmosphere they constitute the carbon cycle of the Earth.
After this point, although the amount of carbon-12 remains constant, carbon-14 continues to disintegrate and the ratio starts to decrease after the body dies.
Because the ratio after death is related to the time that has passed since death, it is possible to determine the date of death by measuring the amount of radiocarbon present. This means that after 5,730 years half of the total amount of radiocarbon in a dead body disintegrates.
Today, archeologists and paleontologists employ this technique to determine the age of organic materials (bones, teeth, wood, etc.) that are less than fifty thousand years in age. The theory is simple: Cosmic particles coming from outer space continuously collide with stable carbon-12 atoms in CO2 molecules, which are widespread in the atmosphere.
Each carbon-12 atom takes up two neutrons and is converted into a radioactive carbon-14 atom.