An example of radiocarbon dating
Obviously there will usually be a loss of stable carbon too but the proportion of radiocarbon to stable carbon will reduce according to the exponential decay law: R = A exp(-T/8033) where R is C ratio of the living organism and T is the amount of time that has passed since the death of the organism.By measuring the ratio, R, in a sample we can then calculate the age of the sample: T = -8033 ln(R/A) Both of these complications are dealt with by calibration of the radiocarbon dates against material of known age.A tiny part of the carbon on the Earth is called Carbon-14 (C14), or radiocarbon.It is called 'radio'-carbon, because it is 'radioactive'."Everything which has come down to us from heathendom is wrapped in a thick fog; it belongs to a space of time we cannot measure.We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].The dating process is always designed to try to extract the carbon from a sample which is most representative of the original organism.
The relative dating method worked very well, but only in sites which were had a connection to the relative scale. When radiocarbon dating was developed, it revolutionised archaeology, because it enabled them to more confidently date the past, and to build a more accurate picture of the human past.
The person who wrote these words lived in the 1800s, many years before archaeologists could accurately date materials from archaeological sites using scientific methods.
Rasmus Nyerup's quote reminds us of the tremendous scientific advances which have taken place in the 20th century.
All plants and animals on Earth are made principally of carbon.
During the period of a plant's life, the plant is taking in carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, which is how the plant makes energy and grows.