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Bottom line: is a technique used by scientists to learn the ages of biological specimens – for example, wooden archaeological artifacts or ancient human remains – from the distant past.Follow the links in this post to learn more about radiocarbon dating.

is a term for radiocarbon dating based on timestamps left by above-ground nuclear explosions, and it is especially useful for putting an absolute age on organisms that lived through those events.

Radioactive dating gives the Find out how many times you need to multiply (1/2) by itself to get the observed fraction of remaining parent material. If some material has been decaying long enough so that only 1/4 of the radioactive material is left, the sample is 2 half-lives old: 1/4 = (1/2) × (1/2), n =2.

After 1 half-life, there is 1/2 of the original amount of the parent left.

Most radiocarbon dating today is done using an accelerator mass spectrometer, an instrument that directly counts the numbers of carbon 14 and carbon12 in a sample.

A detailed description of radiocarbon dating is available at the Wikipedia radiocarbon dating web page.

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