How is radioactive dating used to estimate the age of objects


Since sunlight causes the formation of C-14 in the atmosphere, and normal radioactive decay takes it out, there must be a point where the formation rate and the decay rate equalizes. This is called the point of equilibrium. To illustrate: If you were trying to fill a barrel with water but there were holes drilled up the side of the barrel, as you filled the barrel it would begin leaking out the holes. At some point you would be putting it in and it would be leaking out at the same rate. You will not be able to fill the barrel past this point of equilibrium. In the same way the C-14 is being formed and decaying simultaneously. A freshly created earth would require about 30,000 years for the amount of C-14 in the atmosphere to reach this point of equilibrium because it would leak out as it is being filled. Tests indicate that the earth has still not reached equilibrium. There is more C-14 in the atmosphere now than there was 40 years ago. This would prove the earth is not yet 30,000 years old! This also means that plants and animals that lived in the past had less C-14 in them than do plants and animals today. Just this one fact totally upsets data obtained by C-14 dating.

The different isotopes of carbon do not differ appreciably in their chemical properties. This resemblance is used in chemical and biological research, in a technique called carbon labeling : carbon-14 atoms can be used to replace nonradioactive carbon, in order to trace chemical and biochemical reactions involving carbon atoms from any given organic compound.


How is radioactive dating used to estimate the age of objects

How is radioactive dating used to estimate the age of objects