Radioactive carbon dating worksheet

In contrast, radiocarbon forms continually today in the earth’s upper atmosphere.

And as far as we know, it has been forming in the earth’s upper atmosphere since the atmosphere was made back on Day Two of Creation Week (part of the expanse, or firmament, described in Genesis 1:6–8). Cosmic rays from outer space are continually bombarding the upper atmosphere of the earth, producing fast-moving neutrons (subatomic particles carrying no electric charge) (Figure 1a).1 These fast-moving neutrons collide with atoms of nitrogen-14, the most abundant element in the upper atmosphere, converting them into radiocarbon (carbon-14) atoms.

Radioactive and non-radioactive carbon dioxide mix throughout the atmosphere, and dissolve into the oceans.

If the level is constant, living plants and animals should also maintain a constant carbon-14 level in them.

The reason is that, as long as the organism is alive, it replaces any carbon molecule that has decayed into nitrogen.

CARBON-14 IS ABSORBED (Figure 1b): Plants absorb this carbon-14 during photosynthesis.

When animals eat the plants, the carbon-14 enters their bodies.

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