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It takes another 5,730 for half of the remainder to decay, and then another 5,730 for half of what's left then to decay and so on.The period of time that it takes for half of a sample to decay is called a "half-life."Radiocarbon oxidizes (that is, it combines with oxygen) and enters the biosphere through natural processes like breathing and eating.It is naturally unstable and so it will spontaneously decay back into N-14 after a period of time.It takes about 5,730 years for half of a sample of radiocarbon to decay back into nitrogen.C-14 is produced in the upper atmosphere when nitrogen-14 (N-14) is altered through the effects of cosmic radiation bombardment (a proton is displaced by a neutron effectively changing the nitrogen atom into a carbon isotope).The new isotope is called "radiocarbon" because it is radioactive, though it is not dangerous. This is how carbon dating works: Carbon is a naturally abundant element found in the atmosphere, in the earth, in the oceans, and in every living creature.

The ratio can further be affected by C-14 production rates in the atmosphere, which in turn is affected by the amount of cosmic rays penetrating the earth's atmosphere.

After about 10 half-lives, the amount of radiocarbon left becomes too miniscule to measure and so this technique isn't useful for dating specimens which died more than 60,000 years ago.

Another limitation is that this technique can only be applied to organic material such as bone, flesh, or wood. Carbon Dating - The Premise Carbon dating is a dating technique predicated upon three things: Carbon Dating - The Controversy Carbon dating is controversial for a couple of reasons.

Measuring the difference in the ratio between carbon-12 and carbon-14 is useful for dating the age of organic matter since a living organism is exchanging carbon and maintaining a certain ratio of isotopes.

In a diseased organism, there is no exchange of carbon, but the carbon-14 that is present undergoes radioactive decay, so over time, the isotope ratio becomes more and more different.

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