Radio carbon dating chemistry

02 Nov

What do you get when you subtract one proton from nitrogen? But not any old carbon – you get a radioactive form called carbon-14 (the number ’14’ is the number of protons and neutrons the isotope has).During photosynthesis plants turn carbon dioxide into sugar.For reasons that physics doesn’t fully understand, atoms like to have very particular ratios of neutrons to protons.

Some of these particles collide with atmospheric nitrogen and knock off one of its protons.For example, Christian time counts the birth of Christ as the beginning, AD 1 (Anno Domini); everything that occurred before Christ is counted backwards from AD as BC (Before Christ).The Greeks consider the first Olympic Games as the beginning or 776 BC.Limestone (calcium ate) can introduce much older carbon to a sample giving it the appearance of age.Also, solar flare cycles and cycles in the protective magnetosphere affect how much radioactive carbon is produced in the atmosphere, but these have been relatively constant within the range that carbon dating is accurate (about 60,000 years ± 2,000 years).