Carbon dating in chemistry
Fortunately, it is so simple - which is probably not always the case with chemical research distinguished with the Nobel Prize - that everyone should be able to understand the conditions and principles for its execution.
Carbon-14 is a kind of carbon, an isotope of carbon with an atomic weight of 14, which is found in the carbon dioxide of the air.
In about one million million of these carbon atoms, there is only one which has an atomic weight of 14.
And so, like everything in chemistry, and a lot of what we're starting to deal with in physics and quantum mechanics, everything is probabilistic. So one of the neutrons must have turned into a proton and that is what happened. And you might say, oh OK, so maybe-- let's see, let me make nitrogen magenta, right there-- so you might say, OK, maybe that half turns into nitrogen. And over 5,740 years, you determine that there's a 50% chance that any one of these carbon atoms will turn into a nitrogen atom. And we could keep going further into the future, and after every half-life, 5,740 years, we will have half of the carbon that we started. Now, if you look at it over a huge number of atoms. But after two more years, how many are we going to have? So this is t equals 3 I'm sorry, this is t equals 4 years.
It takes a certain amount of time for half the atoms in a sample to decay.
It then takes the same amount of time for half the remaining radioactive atoms to decay, and the same amount of time for half of those remaining radioactive atoms to decay, and so on. The amount of time it takes for one-half of a sample to decay is called the half-life of the isotope, and it’s given the symbol: It’s important to realize that the half-life decay of radioactive isotopes is not linear.
Professor Willard Libby has been selected to be the prize-winner for his method of age determination of materials of biological origin by use of carbon-14 as a measurer of time.
His method has obtained widespread use and has become indispensable in archaeology, geology, geophysics and other sciences.It is formed high up in the atmosphere by cosmic radiation coming from outer space. The newly formed carbon-14 has high energy at the moment of its formation, so that it rapidly oxidizes to carbon dioxide, which spreads out and distributes itself evenly in the atmosphere.