Carbon dating of fossils
However, before accepting any radiocarbon date, one should know how the technique works, its limitations, and its assumptions.
One limitation is that the radiocarbon technique dates only material that was once part of an animal or plant, such as bones, flesh, or wood. To understand the other capabilities and limitations of radiocarbon dating, we must understand how it works and consider the flood. However, roughly one in a trillion carbon atoms weighs 14 atomic units. It is also called radio carbon because it is radio active (but not dangerous).
The key questions then are: Has the atmospheric ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 changed in the past, and if so, why and how much?
The assumption usually made, but rarely acknowledged, is that the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in the atmosphere before the industrial revolution has always been the sameabout one in a trillion.
Afterward, less carbon would be available to enter the atmosphere from decaying vegetation.
With less carbon-12 to dilute the carbon-14 continually forming from nitrogen in the upper atmosphere, the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in the atmosphere would increase.
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A 10 gram sample of U-238Now that has changed, and some important discoveries are being made.
Half of it will decay in about 5,730 years to form nitrogen.
Half of the remainder will decay in another 5,730 years, and so on.
When a living thing dies, its radiocarbon loss (decay) is no longer balanced by intake, so its radiocarbon steadily decreases with a half-life of 5,730 years.
If we knew the amount of carbon-14 in an organism when it died, we could attempt to date the time of death.Cosmic radiation striking the upper atmosphere converts about 21 pounds of nitrogen each year into radiocarbon (carbon-14).