Definition of radiocarbon dating

An isotope is a variation of an element based upon the number of neutrons.

The disintegration of the neutrons within the atom of the element's nucleus is what scientists call radioactivity.

An isotope disintegrates at a constant rate called the half-life, or the time it takes for half the atoms of a sample to decay. By counting the number of half-lives and the percentages remaining of parent and daughter isotopes, scientists are able to determine what they call the absolute age of a discovery.

Carbon-14 is a specific isotope used in dating materials that were once living.

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You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree.If a scientist were to compute this, he or she would say two half-lives went by at a rate of 4.5 billion years per half-life; therefore, the sample is approximately 2 times 4.5 billion, or 9 billion years old. So you see, earth scientists are able to use the half-lives of isotopes to date materials back to thousands, millions, and even to billions of years old.The half-life is so predictable that it is also referred to as an atomic clock.Remember, isotopes are variations of elements with a different number of neutrons.The half-life is reliable in dating artifacts because it's not affected by environmental or chemical factors; it does not change.

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