What is the difference between relative dating and radioactive decay
One of the most frequent uses of radiocarbon dating is to estimate the age of organic remains from archaeological sites.
Carbon dating, also known as radiocarbon dating, is a method of estimating the age of carbon-bearing materials up to 60,000 years old.
Carbon-14 is radioactive, with a half-life of about 5,700 years.
For more information on cosmic rays and half-life, as well as the process of radioactive decay, see How Nuclear Radiation Works.
The carbon-14 atoms that cosmic rays create combine with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, which plants absorb naturally and incorporate into plant fibers by photosynthesis.
Animals and people eat plants and take in carbon-14 as well.
Here is one example of an isochron, based on measurements of basaltic meteorites (in this case the resulting date is 4.4 billion years) [Basaltic1981, pg. Skeptics of old-earth geology make great hay of these examples.
For example, creationist writer Henry Morris [Morris2000, pg.
In a separate article (Radiometric dating), we sketched in some technical detail how these dates are calculated using radiometric dating techniques.It is not uncommon for a cosmic ray to collide with an atom in the atmosphere, creating a secondary cosmic ray in the form of an energetic neutron, and for these energetic neutrons to collide with nitrogen atoms.When the neutron collides, a nitrogen-14 (seven protons, seven neutrons) atom turns into a carbon-14 atom (six protons, eight neutrons) and a hydrogen atom (one proton, zero neutrons).The slope of the line determines the date, and the closeness of fit is a measure of the statistical reliability of the resulting date.
Technical details on how these dates are calculated are given in Radiometric dating. As with any experimental procedure in any field of science, these measurements are subject to certain "glitches" and "anomalies," as noted in the literature. This is an informational tour in which students gain a basic understanding of geologic time, the evidence for events in Earth’s history, relative and absolute dating techniques, and the significance of the Geologic Time Scale.