How accurate carbon dating

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The radioactive carbon has six protons and eight neutrons in its nucleus, giving it a total atomic mass of 14.This atom is not stable, and will break down, releasing nuclear energy in the process.When they strike ordinary atoms in the upper atmosphere, the cosmic rays smash them apart. Some of these neutrons then collide with nitrogen atoms.This collision is less destructive than the initial collision that produced them.Anything that was once alive or that was produced by a living thing can be dated by using the radiocarbon method of dating.

MYTH #2 Radiocarbon dating has established the date of some organic materials (e.g., some peat deposits) to be well in excess of 50,000 years, thus rendering a recent creation (6 to 10 thousand years ago) impossible.Some radiometric dating methods depend upon knowing the initial amount of the isotope subject to decay.The field of radiocarbon dating has become a technical one far removed from the naive simplicity which characterized its initial introduction by Libby in the late 1940's.When the carbon dioxide, containing C14 as well as stable C12 and C13, is taken in by plants it is no longer exposed to the intense cosmic ray bombardment in the upper atmosphere, so the carbon 14 isotope decays without being replenished.Measuring the ratio of C14 to C12 and C13 therefore dates the organic matter for periods back to about eight half-lives of the isotope, 45,000 years.

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