Dynamic Earth quiz 1
Log in Sign up. How can we help? What is your email? Upgrade to remove ads. Many people assume rocks are dated at "millions of years". Carbon dating can yield dates of only "thousands of years". Radiocarbon forms continually today in the earths upper atmosphere. Been doing this since the atmosphere was made cadbon on Day Two of Creation Week. Cosmic rays from outer space are constantly bombarding the upper atmosphere of the earth, producing fast-moving neutrons.
These neutrons collide with atoms of nitrogen Plants absorb this carbon during photosynthesis. Dafe animals eat the plants, Carbon in their bodies breaks down and escapes as new Carbon is added. When an animal dies the Carbon continues to break down to nitrogen and escape, while no new carbon is added. The radiocarbon atoms combine with oxygen atoms to form carbon dioxide.
Through photosynthesis carbon dioxide enters plants and algae, bringing radiocarbon into the food chain. What is beta decay? When carbon atoms are unstable, so over time they progressively decay back to nuclei mterial stable nitrogen A neutron breaks down to a proton and an matdrial, and the electron is ejected. If we know what fraction of the carbon atoms are radioactive, we can calculate how many radiocarbon atoms are in the lump.