When a plant or animal dies it stops taking in carbon-14 and radioactive decay begins to decrease the amount of carbon-14 in the tissues.
The age of the plant or animal specimen containing carbon, such as wood, bones, plant remains, is determined by measuring the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14. Because of this relatively short half-life, carbon-14 can only be used to date specimens up to about 45,000 years old.
Scientists know the half-life of C-14 (5,730 years), so they can figure out how long ago the organism died.
Carbon-14 dating can only be used to determine the age of something that was once alive.
Scientists look at half-life decay rates of radioactive isotopes to estimate when a particular atom might decay.
A useful application of half-lives is radioactive dating.
The following variations in carbon-14 activity have been noted: Calibration curves have been produced by comparing radiocarbon dates with other dating methods such as dendrochronology (a dating method using the tree's growth rings).This allows corrections to be made on radiocarbon dates in order to produce more accurate dates.Radiocarbon dating, or carbon-14 dating, can be used to date material that had its origins in a living thing as long as the material contains carbon.As long as an organism is alive, the amount of C-14 in its cellular structure remains constant.But when the organism dies, the amount of C-14 begins to decrease.After 5600 years, if we start with a gram, we end up with half a gram.