Radiometric dating definition for kids

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In living organisms, which are always taking in carbon, the levels of carbon 14 likewise stay constant.But in a dead organism, no new carbon is coming in, and its carbon 14 gradually begins to decay.Because atmospheric carbon 14 arises at about the same rate that the atom decays, Earth's levels of carbon 14 have remained fairly constant.Once an organism is dead, however, no new carbon is actively absorbed by its tissues, and its carbon 14 gradually decays.

The highest rate of carbon-14 production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km (30,000 to 50,000 ft).Plants take in atmospheric carbon dioxide by photosynthesis, and are ingested by animals.So, every living thing is constantly exchanging carbon-14 with its environment as long as it lives. The carbon in its body will remain until it decomposes or fossilizes.So by measuring carbon 14 levels in an organism that died long ago, researchers can figure out when it died.The procedure of radiocarbon dating can be used for remains that are up to 50,000 years old.

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