Carbon 14 dating math problem
This is why it is such a big concern when a nuclear submarine sinks... (By the way, you are mostly Carbon-12, which is not radioactive.Eventually, the salt water will eat through the steel and release the Plutonium (which, as you know, is quite lethal.) They usually talk about either trying to raise the sub or encase it in concrete where it rests. That's why we are called "Carbon-based life forms." Man, I've really watched too much Star Trek.)Scientists use Carbon-14 to make a guess at how old some things are -- things that used to be alive like people, animals, wood and natural cloths. Anyway, they make an estimate of how much Carbon-14 would have been in the thing when it died...
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The carbon-14 decays with its half-life of 5,700 years, while the amount of carbon-12 remains constant in the sample.
By looking at the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the sample and comparing it to the ratio in a living organism, it is possible to determine the age of a formerly living thing fairly precisely. So, if you had a fossil that had 10 percent carbon-14 compared to a living sample, then that fossil would be: t = [ ln (0.10) / (-0.693) ] x 5,700 years t = [ (-2.303) / (-0.693) ] x 5,700 years t = [ 3.323 ] x 5,700 years Because the half-life of carbon-14 is 5,700 years, it is only reliable for dating objects up to about 60,000 years old.
Experts can compare the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14 in dead material to the ratio when the organism was alive to estimate the date of its death.
Radiocarbon dating can be used on samples of bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers.
At any particular time all living organisms have approximately the same ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14 in their tissues.
When an organism dies it ceases to replenish carbon in its tissues and the decay of carbon 14 to nitrogen 14 changes the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14.
The stable form of carbon is carbon 12 and the radioactive isotope carbon 14 decays over time into nitrogen 14 and other particles.
Carbon is naturally in all living organisms and is replenished in the tissues by eating other organisms or by breathing air that contains carbon.
The half-life of a radioactive isotope describes the amount of time that it takes half of the isotope in a sample to decay.