Dating by radioactivity

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Carbon-14 (C-14), a radioactive isotope of carbon, is produced in the upper atmosphere by cosmic radiation.The primary carbon-containing compound in the atmosphere is carbon dioxide, and a very small amount of carbon dioxide contains C-14.

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Radioactive decay occurs at a constant rate, specific to each radioactive isotope.Carbon-14 is a method used for young (less than 50,000 year old) sedimentary rocks.This method relies on the uptake of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of carbon, carbon-14 by all living things.When they die no new carbon-14 is taken in by the dead organism.The carbon-14 it contained at the time of death decays over a long period of time.

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