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Although many people think radiocarbon dating is used to date rocks, it is limited to dating things that contain the element carbon and were once alive (like fossils).

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Carbon-14 can yield dates of only “thousands of years” before it all breaks down.

These excited neutrons then collide with nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere, changing them into radioactive carbon-14 atoms.

CARBON-14 IS ABSORBED (Figure 1b): Plants absorb this carbon-14 during photosynthesis.

Carbon-14 is produced in the atmosphere when neutrons from cosmic radiation react with nitrogen atoms: C ratio of 0.795 times that found in plants living today. Solution The half-life of carbon-14 is known to be 5720 years.​ Radioactive decay is a first order rate process, which means the reaction proceeds according to the following equation: is the quantity of radioactive material at time zero, X is the amount remaining after time t, and k is the first order rate constant, which is a characteristic of the isotope undergoing decay.

Inscriptions, distinctive markings, and historical documents can all offer clues to an artifact's age.

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