Nuclear radiation carbon dating
This is called the half-life—the amount of time required for one-half of a given number of atoms to disintegrate. The plot of the number of tiles as a function of the number of turns looks like this: Again, I made radioactive spheres disappear when they decayed.This is fine, because when carbon-14 decays, it produces nitrogen-14. But you could imagine that if you knew that the sample started with 20 percent blue spheres and you knew their half-life, then you could determine the age by examining one frame from the animation.
Based on Korff’s estimation that just two neutrons were produced per second per square centimeter of earth’s surface, each forming a carbon-14 atom, Libby calculated a ratio of just one carbon-14 atom per every 10 carbon atoms on earth.In 1946, Libby proposed this groundbreaking idea in the journal Physical Review.Top of page You read statements in books that such and such a society or archeological site is 20,000 years old.Libby’s next task was to study the movement of carbon through the carbon cycle.In a system where carbon-14 is readily exchanged throughout the cycle, the ratio of carbon-14 to other carbon isotopes should be the same in a living organism as in the atmosphere.
Libby cleverly realized that carbon-14 in the atmosphere would find its way into living matter, which would thus be tagged with the radioactive isotope.