Rachel Wood does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Radiocarbon dating has transformed our understanding of the past 50, years. Professor Willard Libby produced the first radiocarbon dates in and was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts. Radiocarbon dating works by comparing the three different isotopes of carbon. Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons. This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.
Radiocarbon dating - Wikipedia
For example, Carbon atoms have 6 protons in the nucleus. Since protons are positively charged, a neutral carbon atom also has 6 electrons in orbits around the nucleus. Atoms can't be this simple, however. The positvely charged protons repel each other like charges repel through the electromagnetic force and so do not want to be close to each other; however, the protons also attract each other through the "strong" nuclear force. But at the distances between protons in the nucleus, the repulsive forces are stronger than the attractive forces, and so a nuclues made only of protons would be unstable. This is where the neutron comes in. The neutron increases the strength of the attractive "strong" nuclear force without adding more repulsive positive charges, thereby helping to moderate the repulsive force of the protons.
Can radioactive carbon dating be used to determine the age of dinosaur fossils why or why not
Radiocarbon is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of carbon. Atoms of radiocarbon behave in the same way as any other carbon atoms except that they weigh slightly more and, after an average of some years decay to nitrogen. Because radiocarbon is a radioactive isotope, it only exists on the earth because it has been formed recently. We know from nuclear physics that several possible reactions can result in radiocarbon.
Carbon dating is a technique used to determine the approximate age of once-living materials. It is based on the decay rate of the radioactive carbon isotope 14 C, a form of carbon taken in by all living organisms while they are alive. Before the twentieth century, determining the age of ancient fossils or artifacts was considered the job of paleontologists or paleontologists, not nuclear physicists.