magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this.For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles below.
Plants take in atmospheric carbon dioxide by photosynthesis, and are ingested by animals.
So, every living thing is constantly exchanging carbon-14 with its environment as long as it lives. The carbon in its body will remain until it decomposes or fossilizes.
As soon as it dies, however, the C ration gets smaller.
In other words, we have a ‘clock’ which starts ticking at the moment something dies.
One of the most frequent uses of radiocarbon dating is to estimate the age of organic remains from archaeological sites.