This technique is widely used on recent artifacts, but teachers should note that this technique will not work on older fossils (like those of the dinosaurs which are over 65 million years old).This technique is not restricted to bones; it can also be used on cloth, wood and plant fibers. The short half-life of carbon-14 means its cannot be used to date extremely old fossils.

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Carbon-14 dating has been used successfully on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Minoan ruins and tombs of the pharohs among other things. Levels of carbon-14 become difficult to measure and compare after about 50,000 years (between 8 and 9 half lives; where 1% of the original carbon-14 remains undecayed).

Carbon-14 is created from nitrogen-14 in the upper atmosphere of the earth.

When it collides with an energetic neutron it becomes carbon-14, with six protons and eight neutrons and gives off a hydrogen atom with one proton and zero neutrons. Carbon-14 is an isotope of carbon, which exists only is small amounts in the environment (1 in one trillion carbon atoms is carbon-14).

The ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in the atmosphere and on earth is nearly constant, although there has been some change in carbon-14 concentration over the last 10,000 years.

Physicists have used carbon dating to confirm that an alleged Fernand L├ęger painting was definitely a fake.

This is the first time it has been possible to identify a fake painting by relying on the anomalous behavior of the concentration of the radioactive form of carbon (14C) in the atmosphere after 1955 to date the canvas.

Animals and people that eat these plants take the carbon-14 into their bodies as well.

Carbon-14 in the bodies of animals and plants is constantly decaying.

When a plant or animal dies it stops bringing in new carbon-14.