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Carbon dating was used routinely from the 1950s onward, and it confirmed the age of these historical remains.
Radiocarbon dating is a method used to date materials that once exchanged carbon dioxide with the atmosphere; in other words, things that were living.
Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope and is present in all living things in a constant amount.
Because of the carbon cycle, there is always carbon-14 present in both the air and in living organisms.
Radiocarbon dating has been used extensively since its discovery.
Once they die, they stop taking in carbon-14, and the amount present starts to decrease at a constant half-life rate.
For the record, a beta-particle is a specific type of nuclear decay. Image 1 shows carbon-14 production by high energy neutrons hitting nitrogen-14 atoms, while in Image 2, carbon-14 naturally decomposes through beta-particle production.
Notice that the nitrogen-14 atom is recreated and goes back into the cycle.
Radioactive carbon-14 is continually formed in the atmosphere by the bombardment of cosmic ray neutrons on nitrogen-14 atoms.
After it forms, carbon-14 naturally decomposes, with a half-life of 5,730 years, through beta-particle decay.
Scientists often use the value of 10 half-lives to indicate when a radioactive isotope will be gone, or rather when a very negligible amount is still left.