Carbon 14 dating definition for kids
Think of it like a teaspoon of cocoa mixed into a cake dough—after a while, the ‘ratio’ of cocoa to flour particles would be roughly the same no matter which part of the cake you sampled.
The fact that the C doesn’t matter in a living thing—because it is constantly exchanging carbon with its surroundings, the ‘mixture’ will be the same as in the atmosphere and in all living things.
Knowing this and an estimated amount of carbon-14 in the organism while alive can be used to determine the age of the fossil.
For a website with a simple calculator that computes this for you, see is the half-life of carbon-14 (5,700 years).
Radiocarbon dating uses isotopes of the element carbon. Cosmic rays – high energy particles from beyond the solar system – bombard Earth’s upper atmosphere continually, in the process creating the unstable carbon-14. Because it’s unstable, carbon-14 will eventually decay back to carbon-12 isotopes.
Answer: Since 1 gram of carbon-14 emits 15 beta particles per minute, the mass of carbon-14 in a fossil can be determined by measuring its rate of beta particle emission.Question: What happens to the Carbon-14 when plants and animals die? This is the time it takes for half of the carbon-14 to decay.