What is radioactive carbon dating
As you learned in the previous page, carbon dating uses the half-life of Carbon-14 to find the approximate age of certain objects that are 40,000 years old or younger.
In the following section we are going to go more in-depth about carbon dating in order to help you get a better understanding of how it works.
Atoms are made up of much smaller particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons.
Protons and neutrons make up the center (nucleus) of the atom, and electrons form shells around the nucleus.
The carbon-14 atoms combine with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, which plants absorb naturally and incorporate into plant fibers by photosynthesis.
Animals and people take in carbon-14 by eating the plants.
Before we get into the details of how radiometric dating methods are used, we need to review some preliminary concepts from chemistry.