conversation starters dating couples - Carbon 14 in radiocarbon dating
Scientists use a technique called radiometric dating to estimate the ages of rocks, fossils, and the earth.
In living organisms, which are always taking in carbon, the levels of carbon 14 likewise stay constant.
But in a dead organism, no new carbon is coming in, and its carbon 14 gradually begins to decay.
Because atmospheric carbon 14 arises at about the same rate that the atom decays, Earth's levels of carbon 14 have remained fairly constant.
Once an organism is dead, however, no new carbon is actively absorbed by its tissues, and its carbon 14 gradually decays.
The illustration below shows the three isotopes of carbon.