Principle of carbon dating markledating com

The situation is analogous to the death rate among human populations insured by an insurance company.Even though it is impossible to predict when a given policyholder will die, the company can count on paying off a certain number of beneficiaries every month.To compensate for the loss of mass (and energy), the radioactive atom undergoes internal transformation and in most cases simply becomes an atom of a different chemical element.

In all cases, it is the obligation of the investigator making the determinations to include enough tests to indicate that the absolute age quoted is valid within the limits stated.Fortunately for geochronology the study of radioactivity has been the subject of extensive theoretical and laboratory investigation by physicists for almost a century.The results show that there is no known process that can alter the rate of radioactive decay.For a single element, these atoms are called isotopes.Because isotopes differ in mass, their relative abundance can be determined if the masses are separated in a mass spectrometer (see below Use of mass spectrometers).In other words, it is the obligation of geochronologists to try to prove themselves wrong by including a series of cross-checks in their measurements before they publish a result.Such checks include dating a series of ancient units with closely spaced but known relative ages and replicate analysis of different parts of the same rock body with samples collected at widely spaced localities.In this analogy, the apples would represent radioactive, or parent, atoms, while the oranges would represent the atoms formed, the so-called daughters.Pursuing this analogy further, one would expect that a new basket of apples would have no oranges but that an older one would have many.By way of explanation it can be noted that since the cause of the process lies deep within the atomic nucleus, external forces such as extreme heat and pressure have no effect.The same is true regarding gravitational, magnetic, and electric fields, as well as the chemical state in which the atom resides.

Principle of carbon dating