A very small percentage of carbon, however, consists of the isotope carbon 14, or radiocarbon, which is unstable.Carbon 14 has a half-life of 5,780 years, and is continuously created in Earth's atmosphere through the interaction of nitrogen and gamma rays from outer space.Students should begin to see the pattern that each time they “take a half-life,” about half of the surrogate radioactive material becomes stable.Students then should be able to see the connection between the M&M’s and Puzzle Pieces and radioactive elements in archaeological samples.
All objects that have the [infopopup:element] called carbon in them (like plants, animals, clothing, and even humans like you and me!
Libby thus reasoned that by measuring carbon 14 levels in the remains of an organism that died long ago, one could estimate the time of its death.
This procedure of radiocarbon dating has been widely adopted and is considered accurate enough for practical use to study remains up to 50,000 years old.
They should also understand that the atoms of any element are alike but are different from atoms of other elements.
Atoms may stick together in well-defined molecules or they could be packed together in large arrays.