All living things absorb both types of carbon; but once it dies, it will stop absorbing.
Specifically, each nucleus will lose an electron, a process which is referred to as decay.
This rate of decay, thankfully, is constant, and can be easily measured in terms of ‘half-life’.
Equilibrium is the name given to the point when the rate of carbon production and carbon decay are equal.
By measuring the rate of production and of decay (both eminently quantifiable), scientists were able to estimate that carbon in the atmosphere would go from zero to equilibrium in 30,000 – 50,000 years.
By testing the amount of carbon stored in an object, and comparing to the original amount of carbon Unfortunately, the believed amount of carbon present at the time of expiration is exactly that: a belief, an assumption, an estimate.
It is very difficult for scientists to know how much carbon would have originally been present; one of the ways in which they have tried to overcome this difficulty was through using carbon equilibrium.However, a little more knowledge about the exact ins and outs of carbon dating reveals that perhaps it is not quite as fool-proof a process as we may have been led to believe.At its most basic level, carbon dating is the method of determining the age of organic material by measuring the levels of carbon found in it.Specifically, there are two types of carbon found in organic materials: carbon 12 (C-12) and carbon 14 (C-14).It is imperative to remember that the material must have been alive at one point to absorb the carbon, meaning that carbon dating of rocks or other inorganic objects is nothing more than inaccurate guesswork.In this article, we will examine the methods by which scientists use radioactivity to determine the age of objects, most notably carbon-14 dating.