Radiocarbon dating definition for kids

Once an organism is dead, however, no new carbon is actively absorbed by its tissues, and its carbon 14 gradually decays.

Libby thus reasoned that by measuring carbon 14 levels in the remains of an organism that died long ago, one could estimate the time of its death.

In addition to permitting more accurate dating within archaeological sites than previous methods, it allows comparison of dates of events across great distances.

A very small percentage of carbon, however, consists of the isotope carbon 14, or , which is unstable.For example, two samples taken from the tombs of two Egyptian kings, Zoser and Sneferu, independently dated to 2625 BC plus or minus 75 years, were dated by radiocarbon measurement to an average of 2800 BC plus or minus 250 years. Carbon dioxide produced in this way diffuses in the atmosphere, is dissolved in the ocean, and is taken up by plants via photosynthesis.Animals eat the plants, and ultimately the radiocarbon is distributed throughout the biosphere.Will you have the survival skills to master our quiz? These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'radiocarbon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors.

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