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Carbon Dating

Carbon Dating

  • Carbon Dating is a widely-used method applied to establish the age of organic material, things that were once living.
  • Methodology: The dating method makes use of C-14 (radioactive), which is radioactive, and decays.
  • The most abundant isotope of carbon in the atmosphere is carbon-12. A very small amount of carbon-14 is also present. The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 (C-14) in the atmosphere is almost static and known
  • Carbon Dating of Living Being: Plants get their carbon through the process of photosynthesis, while animals get it mainly through food.
  • So, after a plant or animal dies, the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the body begins to change, as C-12 is stable and C-14 is radioactive.
  • This change can be measured and can be used to deduce the approximate time when the organism died.
Carbon Dating
Carbon Dating

Carbon Dating: Half Life of Carbon

  • Carbon-14 reduces to one-half of itself in about 5,730 years.
  • This is known as its ‘half-life’.


Carbon Dating: Limitation

  • Carbon dating cannot be applied in all circumstances. It cannot be used to determine the age of non-living things, like rocks.
  • The age of things that are more than 40,000-50,000 years cannot be arrived at through carbon dating.
  • After eight to ten cycles of half-lives have been crossed, the amount of carbon-14 becomes almost negligible and undetectable.


Indirect Use of Carbon Dating in determining age of Non-Living things

  • The age of the ice cores in glaciers and polar regions is determined using carbon dating by studying the carbon dioxide molecules trapped inside large ice sheets.
  • The trapped molecules have no interaction with the outside atmosphere and are found in the same state as when they were trapped.
  • Age of rock can be determined using similar indirect methods.
  • If there are organic materials, dead plants or insects trapped beneath the rock, they can give an indication of when that rock, or any other thing, had reached that place.


Applications of Carbon Dating

  • Age and variety of natural and even man-made materials, manuscript dating in archaeology
  • Determine the factors that caused lost species, such as the age of dinosaurs or sea fossils, by studying fossils.
  • Research on civilizations: Carbon dating has been used to successfully determine the majority of civilizations’ ages and ancestry.
  • Researching human history, eating customs, and cultures to better understand evolution and race
  • Examining meteorites on Earth to learn about the origin of life


Stat IQ

Power Subsidies

  • It constitutes a significant share of the subsidy expenditure of many States.
  • Various types of power subsidies are offered by the States targeting farmers, consumers, and industries.
  • Andhra Pradesh spent 94% of subsidies on power in FY21, while Rajasthan, Punjab, and Bihar spend over 80% of their subsidy expenditure on power.
Carbon Dating Method
Carbon Dating Method

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