How radiocarbon dating works
The methods work because radioactive elements are unstable, and they are always trying to move to a more stable state. This process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by releasing radiation is called radioactive decay.
Carbon-14 is continually being created in the atmosphere due to the action of cosmic rays on nitrogen in the air.
Carbon-14 combines with oxygen to create carbon dioxide.
As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 55,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more.
Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.
With rubidium-strontium dating, we see that rubidium-87 decays into strontium-87 with a half-life of 50 billion years.