Questions on carbon dating

Since certain species of animals existed on Earth at specific times in history, the fossils or remains of such animals embedded within those successive layers of rock also help scientists determine the age of the layers.

Similarly, pollen grains released by seed-bearing plants became fossilized in rock layers.

The nucleus of every radioactive element (such as radium and uranium) spontaneously disintegrates over time, transforming itself into the nucleus of an atom of a different element.

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When carbon-14 falls to Earth, it is absorbed by plants.

These plants are eaten by animals who, in turn, are eaten by even larger animals.

Dating techniques are procedures used by scientists to determine the age of an object or a series of events.

The two main types of dating methods are relative and absolute.

The older the pottery, the brighter the light that will be emitted.

Using thermoluminescence, pottery pieces as old as 100,000 years can be dated with precision. Known as dendrochronology (pronounced den-dro-crow-NOL-o-gee), tree-ring dating is based on the fact that trees produce one growth ring each year.

These include the uranium-thorium method, the potassium-argon method, and the rubidium-strontium method. Thermoluminescence (pronounced ther-moeloo-mi-NES-ence) dating is very useful for determining the age of pottery.

When a piece of pottery is heated in a laboratory at temperatures more than 930°F (500°C), electrons from quartz and other minerals in the pottery clay emit light.

When the organism dies, the supply stops, and the carbon-14 contained in the organism begins to spontaneously decay into nitrogen-14.

The time it takes for one-half of the carbon-14 to decay (a period called a half-life) is 5,730 years.

Eventually, the entire ecosystem (community of plants and animals) of the planet, including humans, is filled with a concentration of carbon-14.

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