Radioactive Dating Essay

Radioactive Dating
An introduction to the history and methods of the various types of radio carbon dating.
# 23906 | 1,842 words | 9 sources | MLA | 2002 | CA
Published on Apr 16, 2003 in Archaeology (General) , Geology and Geophysics (General) , Chemistry (General)


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Description:

Radioactive dating is the process of determining the age of rocks and other specimens from the decay of their radioactive elements. By applying this information, geologists are able to decipher the 4.6-billion-year history of the earth. The paper introduces the history of this type of dating in chronological order. It discusses other issues related to radioactive dating such as Carbon-14 dating, fission track dating, Potassium Argon Dating, the Rubidium-Strontium method, lead-alpha age and debated ideas of radioactive dating.

From the Paper:

"Cosmic rays from the sun strike nitrogen 14 atoms in the earth's atmosphere and cause nitrogen atoms to lose a proton making it a carbon isotope this then turns into radioactive carbon 14, which combines with oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide. All living things are in equilibrium with the atmosphere, and the radioactive carbon dioxide is absorbed from the air and used by green plants. Then the radioactive carbon dioxide gets passed on through the plants into the food chain and the carbon cycle. All living things contain a constant ratio of Carbon 14 to Carbon 12 of about 1 in a trillion. The amount of carbon 14 lost in a species is continually replenished as long as it still takes in food and oxygen. At death, the exchange of carbon 14 ceases and any that is left in the tissues of the organism begins to decay to Nitrogen 14, this is not replenished by any new C-14. The change in the Carbon 14 to Carbon 12 ratio is the basis for dating this dating technique. The half-life is so short (5730 years) that this method can only be used on materials less than 70,000 years old. A lot of archaeological dating uses this method. It is also very useful in attempting to date remnants of the ice ages (Pleistocene epoch.)"

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