Question: How is radiocarbon dating used to date artifacts?

Every 5,730 years, the radioactivity of carbon-14 decays by half. That half-life is critical to radiocarbon dating. To date an object, researchers use mass spectrometers or other instruments to determine the ratio of carbon-14 and carbon-12. The result is then calibrated and presented along with a margin of error.

How do you carbon date an artifact?

Radiocarbon dating is the most common method by far, according to experts. This method involves measuring quantities of carbon-14, a radioactive carbon isotope — or version of an atom with a different number of neutrons. Carbon-14 is ubiquitous in the environment.

Can carbon dating be used on artifacts?

Carbon dating is used to determine the age of biological artifacts up to 50,000 years old. This technique is widely used on recent artifacts, but teachers should note that this technique will not work on older fossils (like those of the dinosaurs which are over 65 million years old).

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