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Nitrogen fossils dating

Libby and coworkers, and it has provided a way to determine the ages of different materials in archeology, geology, geophysics, and other branches of science.

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Since Nitrogen gas makes up about 78 percent of the Earth's air, by volume, a considerable amount of Carbon-14 is produced.These use radioactive minerals in rocks as geological clocks.The atoms of some chemical elements have different forms, called isotopes.To measure the amount of radiocarbon left in a artifact, scientists burn a small piece to convert it into carbon dioxide gas.Radiation counters are used to detect the electrons given off by decaying Carbon-14 as it turns into nitrogen.Each isotope is identified with what is called a ‘mass number’.

When ‘parent’ uranium-238 decays, for example, it produces subatomic particles, energy and ‘daughter’ lead-206.

The carbon-14 atoms combine with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, which plants absorb naturally and incorporate into plant fibers by photosynthesis.

Animals and people take in carbon-14 by eating the plants.

The ratio of normal carbon (carbon-12) to carbon-14 in the air and in all living things at any given time is nearly constant.

Maybe one in a trillion carbon atoms are carbon-14.

Because of their unique decay rates, different elements are used for dating different age ranges.