Carbon dating questions
Radioactive carbon-14 atoms rapidly mix and become uniform throughout the atmosphere.
At any particular time all living organisms have approximately the same ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14 in their tissues.
Several factors affect radiocarbon test results, not all of which are easy to control objectively.
For this reason, it’s preferable to date objects using multiple methods, rather than relying on one single test.
Carbon dating is reliable within certain parameters but certainly not infallible.
When testing an object using radiocarbon dating, several factors have to be considered: First, carbon dating only works on matter that was once alive, and it only determines the approximate date of death for that sample.Since the atmosphere is composed of about 78 percent nitrogen,2 a lot of radiocarbon atoms are produced—in total about 16.5 lbs. These rapidly combine with oxygen atoms (the second most abundant element in the atmosphere, at 21 percent) to form carbon dioxide (CO This carbon dioxide, now radioactive with carbon-14, is otherwise chemically indistinguishable from the normal carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is slightly lighter because it contains normal carbon-12.