Carbon 14 dating process

Along with hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur, carbon is a building block of biochemical molecules ranging from fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to active substances such as hormones.All carbon atoms have a nucleus containing six protons.Love-hungry teenagers and archaeologists agree: dating is hard.But while the difficulties of single life may be intractable, the challenge of determining the age of prehistoric artifacts and fossils is greatly aided by measuring certain radioactive isotopes.Though still heavily used, relative dating is now augmented by several modern dating techniques.Radiocarbon dating involves determining the age of an ancient fossil or specimen by measuring its carbon-14 content.The Mayan calendar used 3114 BC as their reference.

Relative dating stems from the idea that something is younger or older relative to something else.

Isotopes participate in the same chemical reactions but often at differing rates.

When isotopes are to be designated specifically, the chemical symbol is expanded to identify the mass (for example, C is not stable.

They have masses of 13 and 14 respectively and are referred to as "carbon-13" and "carbon-14." If two atoms have equal numbers of protons but differing numbers of neutrons, one is said to be an "isotope" of the other.

Carbon-13 and carbon-14 are thus isotopes of carbon-12.

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