Carbon dating calculation

Potassium-40 is another radioactive element naturally found in your body and has a half-life of 1.3 billion years.Other useful radioisotopes for radioactive dating include Uranium -235 (half-life = 704 million years), Uranium -238 (half-life = 4.5 billion years), Thorium-232 (half-life = 14 billion years) and Rubidium-87 (half-life = 49 billion years).The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 at the moment of death is the same as every other living thing, but the carbon-14 decays and is not replaced.The carbon-14 decays with its half-life of 5,700 years, while the amount of carbon-12 remains constant in the sample.This half life is a relatively small number, which means that carbon 14 dating is not particularly helpful for very recent deaths and deaths more than 50,000 years ago.

Where t is the age of the fossil (or the date of death) and ln() is the natural logarithm function.

Anything that dies after the 1940s, when Nuclear bombs, nuclear reactors and open-air nuclear tests started changing things, will be harder to date precisely.

Archaeologists use the exponential, radioactive decay of carbon 14 to estimate the death dates of organic material.

This convention is necessary in order to keep published radiocarbon results comparable to each other; without this convention, a given radiocarbon result would be of no use unless the year it was measured was also known—an age of 500 years published in 2010 would indicate a likely sample date of 1510, for example.

In order to allow measurements to be converted to the 1950 baseline, a standard activity level is defined for the radioactivity of wood in 1950.

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