# Type radiation used carbon dating

You probably have seen or read news stories about fascinating ancient artifacts.At an archaeological dig, a piece of wooden tool is unearthed and the archaeologist finds it to be 5,000 years old. And so, like everything in chemistry, and a lot of what we're starting to deal with in physics and quantum mechanics, everything is probabilistic. So one of the neutrons must have turned into a proton and that is what happened. And you might say, oh OK, so maybe-- let's see, let me make nitrogen magenta, right there-- so you might say, OK, maybe that half turns into nitrogen. And over 5,740 years, you determine that there's a 50% chance that any one of these carbon atoms will turn into a nitrogen atom. And we could keep going further into the future, and after every half-life, 5,740 years, we will have half of the carbon that we started. Now, if you look at it over a huge number of atoms. But after two more years, how many are we going to have? So this is t equals 3 I'm sorry, this is t equals 4 years. And maybe not carbon-12, maybe we're talking about carbon-14 or something. And then nothing happens for a long time, a long time, and all of a sudden two more guys decay. And the atomic number defines the carbon, because it has six protons. If they say that it's half-life is 5,740 years, that means that if on day one we start off with 10 grams of pure carbon-14, after 5,740 years, half of this will have turned into nitrogen-14, by beta decay. What happens over that 5,740 years is that, probabilistically, some of these guys just start turning into nitrogen randomly, at random points. So if we go to another half-life, if we go another half-life from there, I had five grams of carbon-14. So now we have seven and a half grams of nitrogen-14. This exact atom, you just know that it had a 50% chance of turning into a nitrogen. But the way we think about half-life is, people have studied carbon and they said, look, if I start off with 10 grams-- if I have just a block of carbon that's 10 grams. Those five grams of carbon-14, every one of those atoms still has, over the next-- whatever that number was, 5,740 years-- after 5,740 years, all of those once again have a 50% chance. Well, after one billion years I'll say, well you know, it'll probably have turned into nitrogen-14 at that point, but I'm not sure. You don't know how well it calibrates against time. What's going to happen after one billion years? And then you didn't build your time machine well. Now you could say, OK, what's the probability of any given molecule reacting in one second? But we're used to dealing with things on the macro level, on dealing with, you know, huge amounts of atoms. So I have a description, and we're going to hopefully get an intuition of what half-life means. And how does this half know that it must stay as carbon? So if you go back after a half-life, half of the atoms will now be nitrogen. Then all of a sudden you can use the law of large numbers and say, OK, on average, if each of those atoms must have had a 50% chance, and if I have gazillions of them, half of them will have turned into nitrogen. How much time, you know, x is decaying the whole time, how much time has passed?

If, in the case of human remains, an individual received extra radiation due to atomic bombs, mercury poisoning, etc, could that skew the dating process? People who actually do C-14 dating use a calibration curve to adjust the naïve results given by their tests to better match the actual history of C-14 production on our planet.

Carbon-14 dating is a way of determining the age of certain archeological artifacts of a biological origin up to about 50,000 years old.

It is used in dating things such as bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers that were created in the relatively recent past by human activities.

This is typically done with some version of a particle accelerator like a cyclotron so that rare isotopes to give better separation of the lower concentrations of C-14 amidst a strong background signal of C-12.

SAL: In the last video we saw all sorts of different types of isotopes of atoms experiencing radioactive decay and turning into other atoms or releasing different types of particles.

Older stuff can be measured by any of a number of other radioisotope decay ratios, and lots of other kinds of tests as well.

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