Radiocarbon dating is used to find the age of
Carbon has an atomic number of 6, an atomic weight of 12.011, and has three isotopes: carbon-12, carbon-13, and carbon-14.(The numbers 12, 13 and 14 refer to the total number of protons plus neutrons in the atom's nucleus.Conversely, contamination by newer plant matter carried by flowing water or intruding plant roots may result in a date that is much too young. The original technique was based on counting the number of individual radioactive decay events per unit of time, using a device similar to a Geiger counter.Archaeologists are acutely aware of these and other potential difficulties, and take extreme care in the selection and handling of objects to be dated. In the 1970s a new technique was developed called Accelerator-based Mass Spectrometry (AMS), which counts the number of carbon-14 atoms directly.
To correct for this, scientists have compared radiocarbon dates from objects who's age is known by other means, such as artifacts from Egyptian tombs, and growth rings from ancient trees.
The theory behind radiocarbon dating is as follows: Why doesn't the carbon-14 in the air decay along with terrestrial carbon? The trick is that radioactive carbon-14 is continually replenished in a complex reaction that involves high-energy cosmic rays striking the upper atmosphere.
In this process, nitrogen-14 (7 protons and 7 neutrons) gains a neutron and loses a proton, producing carbon-14 (6 protons and 8 neutrons).
The most well-known of all the radiometric dating methods is radiocarbon dating.
Although many people think radiocarbon is used to date rocks, it is limited to dating things that contain carbon and were once alive (fossils).
It cannot be applied to inorganic material such as stone tools or ceramic pottery.