Carbon 12 and carbon 14 dating

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Carbon 14 decays at a particular rate and is not replaced.Thus, measuring the degree to which the carbon 14 level is less than that in the atmosphere provides a measure of time since death.In the case of radiocarbon dating, the half-life of carbon 14 is 5,730 years.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.A steady state results in which the rate of decomposition of carbon 14 is matched by the rate of formation of new C-14 by cosmic rays.The result is that carbon 14 is present as a constant percentage of the total carbon in the atmosphere, although it does change slightly depending upon the amount of cosmic radiation reaching the atmosphere.When finding the age of an organic organism we need to consider the half-life of carbon 14 as well as the rate of decay, which is –0.693.

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Evolution Position The following was extracted from an August 27, 1996 post by Howard Hershey ([email protected]). Carbon exists in the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, a gas.The same is true of animals that eat plant material.When these organisms die, they no longer ingest C-14 (directly or indirectly) from an atmospheric source.This is the motivation behind the 30,000 year figure quoted in the creationist position.Creationists attack all radioactive dating with the claim that radioactive decay rates may have been different in the past.After 5,730 years, the amount of carbon 14 left in the body is half of the original amount.

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