Carbon dating makes use of the principle of
However, once the organism dies, the amount of carbon-14 steadily decreases.By measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in the organism, it's possible to work out how old it is.The half-life is always the same regardless of how many nuclei you have left, and this very useful property lies at the heart of radiocarbon dating. The graph below shows the decay curve (you may recognize it as an exponential decay) and it shows the amount, or percent, of carbon-14 remaining.You will notice that after around 40,000 years (or 8 half-lives), the amount left is starting to become very small, less than 1%.Carbon dating was used routinely from the 1950s onward, and it confirmed the age of these historical remains.Radiocarbon dating is a method used to date materials that once exchanged carbon dioxide with the atmosphere; in other words, things that were living.
For example, look at this image of the opening of King Tutankhamen's tomb near Luxor, Egypt during the 1920s.
Radiocarbon dating has been used extensively since its discovery.
Examples of use include analyzing charcoal from prehistoric caves, ancient linen and wood, and mummified remains.
For the record, a beta-particle is a specific type of nuclear decay. Image 1 shows carbon-14 production by high energy neutrons hitting nitrogen-14 atoms, while in Image 2, carbon-14 naturally decomposes through beta-particle production.
Notice that the nitrogen-14 atom is recreated and goes back into the cycle.