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Carbon has different isotopes, which are usually not radioactive; C is the radioactive one, its half-life, or time it takes to radioactively decay to one half its original amount, is about 5,730 years.
The relatively short-lived C taken into organic matter is also slightly variable. However, under about 20,000 years the results can be compared with dendrochronology, based on tree rings.
Scientists know how fast carbon-14 decays, so by measuring how much of it is remaining in a dead organism, they can figure out how long it has been dead.
When scientists chipped the Iceman out of the block of ice he was found in, they tested his body to see how many carbon-14 atoms were remaining, which told them his age.
Carbon combines with other elements in complex ways to form the molecules that make up our bodies.
Most carbon on Earth is not radioactive, but a very small percentage is.
Imagine going for a hike in the mountains and finding a 5,000-year-old body frozen in a block of ice!
You might be wondering how we know that the Iceman is more than 5,000 years old. Carbon dating is a way of telling the age of a once living thing by measuring the amount of carbon inside of it.
Carbon dating was such an important discovery that American scientist Willard Libby won the top science award called the Nobel Prize for discovering it.
However, it is also used to determine ages of rocks, plants, trees, etc. When the sun’s rays reach them, a few of these particles turn into carbon 14 (a radioactive carbon).
The highest rate of carbon-14 production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km (30,000 to 50,000 ft).
Is it still relevant now with advances in carbon and carbon repair? By Kurt Gensheimer So you’re about to mosey on over to your local bike shop and drop more coin for your first genuine racing bike than most people pay for an entire motorcycle.