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Some radioactive isotopes decay very rapidly, in fractions of a second, while others might take hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. Answer: Scientists determine the age of a fossil by determining the amount of Carbon -14 that has decayed since the organism died and was buried in the ground.
The original percentage of carbon-14 in an organism is the same as the percentage of carbon-14 in the environment today.
Answer: When organisms containing C-14 die, there is no further intake of Carbon 14, so the Carbon- 14 concentration slowly decreases as individual unstable Carbon- 14 decay back into stable Nitrogen -14 atoms. For example, if the organism had 100 grams of carbon-14 when it died, after 5730 years the fossil would have 50 grams of carbon-14.
Know that not all of the carbon-14 atoms decay at the same time, but the half-life describes how long it takes for half of them to decay.
Carbon-14 has 2 more neutrons than carbon-12 and 1 more than carbon-13, both of which are stable.