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Carbon-14 is made when cosmic rays enter the earth’s atmosphere and collide with nitrogen atoms.
The unattached carbon neutrons then combine with nitrogen-14 atoms to become carbon-14 (Nitrogen-14 neutron → Carbon-14 proton).
Archeologists use many methods to analyze data from the past.
One scientific tool they use is to analyze the radioactive decay of chemical elements found in plant and animal remains, pottery, and even in rocks.
When plants and animals die, they no longer absorb carbon from the atmosphere and the trace amount of carbon-14 in them starts to slowly decay back to nitrogen (Carbon-14 → Nitrogen-14 Beta (β)).
Beta particles are single electrons that are free from atoms and carry a negative charge (De Young 20).
To test the validity of his carbon-14 counting device and subsequent calculations, Libby tested many items that archaeologists had previously dated.
In 1948, while at the University of Chicago, he and his colleagues started experimenting with carbon-14 as a means for dating the past.
The scientists proved that carbon-14, which is present in our atmosphere as carbon dioxide, is absorbed by plants, animals, and human beings at a constant rate, and that the amount of carbon-14 is stabilized at a specific amount.
Except for the Zoser sample date, which dated too far back in history, his experimental dates were accurate within an acceptable margin of error.
These sample tests, along with many others, confirmed that his carbon-14 test dating method was scientifically dependable within an acceptable margin of error for objects already dated.
At the point of death, all organisms contain one atom of carbon-14 for every trillion atoms of carbon-12 (Poole 19).