Carbon dating test
Atmospheric carbon-14 rapidly reacts with oxygen in air to form carbon dioxide and enters the carbon cycle.
Plants take in carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and the carbon-14 makes its way up the food chain and into all living organisms.
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For the record, a beta-particle is a specific type of nuclear decay. Image 1 shows carbon-14 production by high energy neutrons hitting nitrogen-14 atoms, while in Image 2, carbon-14 naturally decomposes through beta-particle production.
Notice that the nitrogen-14 atom is recreated and goes back into the cycle.
Each radioactive isotope decays by a fixed amount, and this amount is called the half-life.
Radiocarbon dating has been used extensively since its discovery.
Examples of use include analyzing charcoal from prehistoric caves, ancient linen and wood, and mummified remains.
Scientists often use the value of 10 half-lives to indicate when a radioactive isotope will be gone, or rather, when a very negligible amount is still left.
This is why radiocarbon dating is only useful for dating objects up to around 50,000 years old (about 10 half-lives).
Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in 1960.