Log in to PBS LearningMedia and unlock tons of features that will datinh you bring your classroom to life:. Create an account and instantly unlock tons of features that will help you bring your classroom to life:. Discover how scientists can measure the presence of a radioactive form of carbon—carbon—in decaying remains to calculate the radioactive carbon dating game of bones, cloth, wood, and other organic matter in this media-rich essay from NOVA.
The technique they use, which is effective for dating objects no more than 40, to 60, years old with a high degree of accuracy, is called radiocarbon dating. Have students enter the invitation code on the student site: Assign this item to a previously created class or create a new class now. Students will find it listed in the assignments section of the student site.
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Home Favorites Assignments Folders Classes Profile About. About About Cxrbon Community Events Press Help Log In Create a free account. Permitted Use Stream Only. Radioactive Carbon Discover how scientists can measure the presence of a radioactive form of carbon—carbon—in decaying remains to calculate the ages of bones, cloth, wood, and other organic matter in this media-rich essay from NOVA.
Support Materials Background Essay. Scientists choose from two primary techniques to determine the age of artifacts and other objects found in the earth. Radiocarbon dating is used for dating once-living matter less than 40, to 60, years old, like fossilized bones and teeth. Radiometric dating is for dating objects millions and even billions of years old. Both techniques rely on the properties of radioactive isotopes, which are unstable elements that decay into stable ones over time.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, scientists first developed an understanding that certain elements are radioactive and that these unstable isotopes decayed -- or lost particles from their nuclei, thus becoming different elements -- at a constant rate over time. Knowing a radioactive isotope's decay rate, a scientist can say that after a given amount of time, half of the atoms in a radioactive "parent" sample will be transformed into its stable "daughter" product.
After another equal amount of time, half of the remaining radioactive atoms will decay. This is what is meant by "half-life. The air contains mostly carbon, the most common carbon isotope, but radioactive carbon dating game also contains a datting amount of carbon, a radioactive isotope produced in the atmosphere when cosmic rays bombard nitrogen atoms.
All living plants carboh and all living things that depend on plants -- contain these two isotopes in the same ratio as the air does. When a plant or other living thing dies, it stops taking in fresh carbon from the air. While its carbon content remains constant, its carbon content decreases because carbon is radioactive and rafioactive decays into nitrogen. Hence, the ratio of the two isotopes changes over time. The half-life of carbon is 5, years, which means that in 5, years, half the carbon atoms will have carboj to nitrogen.
Assuming carbon has datting been present in the atmosphere and in all living things in the same concentration, the ratio of carbon to carbon in a sample of a dead plant and the ratio in living plants can be measured and then compared to help determine when the plant died. Dating beyond the 40, to 60, year threshold using radioactive carbon is problematic -- even with the most advanced detection instrumentation -- because so little carbon remains in a sample after that time.
After 5, years, a decaying piece of organic matter will contain half of the carbon it died with. After 11, years, it will contain one-fourth, and radioactive carbon dating game 57, years, it will contain only one-tenth of one percent. What is the source of carbon in your body? Do plants and animals have the same proportion of carbon and carbon? What is meant by "half-life"? What technology can be used to determine the ratio between carbon and carbon atoms within a specimen?
Can you think of specific instances where radiocarbon dating has provided valuable evidence? You might also like Interview with Filmmaker Klaus Feichtenberger Nature: Radioactive Decay of Carbon Two-Proton Decay proton emission, proton radioactivity Science and Technology. Switch to Student View. LOCATION Crystal DriveRadioacriveVA PRODUCTS All Products PBS LearningMedia Custom Students Professional Development. COMMUNITY Explore Community Bame Training. RESOURCES Tools Content Calendar Help.
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