Dictionary definition radiocarbon dating
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These examples are from the Cambridge English Corpus and from sources on the web.
Most carbon consists of the isotopes carbon 12 and carbon 13, which are very stable.
Because the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14 present in all living organisms is the same, and because the decay rate of carbon 14 is constant, the length of time that has passed since an organism has died can be calculated by comparing the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14 in its remains to the known ratio in living organisms.
In the late 1940s, American chemist Willard Libby developed a method for determining when the death of an organism had occurred.
A form of radiometric dating used to determine the age of organic remains in ancient objects, such as archaeological specimens, on the basis of the half-life of carbon-14 and a comparison between the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in a sample of the remains to the known ratio in living organisms.
Also called THE AMERICAN HERITAGE® DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, FIFTH EDITION by the Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries.