Why is carbon dating important pictures of older women dating younger men
All radioactive atoms decay to become a more stable kind of atom.
The original radioactive atom is known as a parent isotope, while the atom produced by the decay process is known as a daughter isotope. For example Uranium-235 and Uranium-238 are both Uranium atoms with the same number of protons, but they have a different number of neutrons.
This predictability allows scientists to measure the age of an object if they can work out how many radioactive atoms were originally present.
Two situations where we can do this involve Potassium-40 atoms and Carbon-14 atoms.
All living things absorb Carbon from the atmosphere into their bodies, and excrete Carbon back into the environment.
A small percentage of this Carbon is the radioactive form, Carbon-14.
Once the rock cools and solidifies, Argon that is formed by radioactive decay is trapped inside.As no Argon was present in the rock when it first solidified, all Argon in the rock is due to the radioactive decay of Potassium.By measuring the amounts of Potassium and Argon present we can date volcanic rocks that are millions of years old.Because it reacts identically to C-12 and C-13, C-14 becomes attached to complex organic molecules through photosynthesis in plants and becomes part of their molecular makeup.
Animals eating those plants in turn absorb Carbon-14 as well as the stable isotopes.By measuring the percentage of Carbon-14 left, and comparing it to the percentage of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere, we can date organic specimens up to 70000 years old.