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The amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere has not changed in thousands of years.Even though it decays into nitrogen, new carbon-14 is always being formed when cosmic rays hit atoms high in the atmosphere.Bottom line: Radiocarbon dating is a technique used by scientists to learn the ages of biological specimens from the distant past.1 - Department of Geosciences, 2 - Department of Physics, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA 3 - Research Laboratory for Archaeology and History of Art, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3QJ, UK 4 - Institut für Mittelenergiephysik, ETH-Hönggerberg, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland 5 - Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, New York 10964, USA 6 - Research Laboratory, British Museum, London WC1B 3DG, UK Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich.As Controls, three samples whose ages had been determined independently were also dated.The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval.
If you ever wondered why nuclear tests are now performed underground, this is why.
By comparing how much carbon-14 there is in the dead organism with the amount in a living one, the age of the dead organism can be estimated.
The half-life of uranium-238 is 4500 million years.
Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and animals eat plants.
This means all living things have radioactive carbon-14 in them.
When an organism, eg a tree, dies it stops taking in carbon dioxide.