Tree ring and carbon 14 dating

(This, in turn, is caused by variations in the magnetic fields of the earth and sun, for example.) Although the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in the atmosphere has varied over time, it is quite uniform around the globe at any given time because the atmosphere mixes very quickly and constantly.

The following article is primarily based on a discussion of radiocarbon dating found in The Biblical Chronologist Volume 5, Number 1. Radiocarbon dating is based on a few relatively simple principles. The vast majority of these are C (pronounced "c twelve"), the stable isotope of carbon.

However, cosmic radiation constantly collides with atoms in the upper atmosphere.

The ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon atoms in the atmosphere has varied in the past.

This is because the amount and strength of cosmic radiation entering the earth's atmosphere has varied over time.

Thus, the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in a living plant is the same as the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon in the atmosphere at any given time.

Animals (and humans) get their carbon atoms primarily from what they eat (i.e., plants).

The most common radioactive element in granite is Uranium-238.

This element is locked in tiny zircons within the granite. While it stays within the zircon for a period of time, being a very small atom, helium escapes the zircon within a few thousand years.

This tendency to decay, called radioactivity, is what gives radiocarbon the name radiocarbon.

The atmosphere contains many stable carbon atoms and relatively few radiocarbon atoms.

Radiocarbon dating is a valuable tool to chronologists and archaeologists.

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