It is then incorporated into all living organisms by means of the food chain.After an organism dies, its level of carbon-14 gradually declines at a predictable pace, with a half-life of about 5,730 years.
Archaeologists precisely measure levels of the isotope in organic remains.
Knowing the halflife, they back calculate how much time must have passed since the remains had levels identical to living organisms.
The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.
The resulting radiocarbon combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis; animals then acquire in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.
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