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The Uses and Limitations of Carbon Dating.

What are the Uses of Carbon Dating?

Carbon dating can be used on anything which used to be alive.

Examples are

1. Animal (or human) remains, including skin, fur and bone.

2. Plant remains, including wood, natural fibres
(cotton, silk, wool, cloth, rope), seeds and pollen grains.

3. Some fossils can be dated this way if they
still contain some of the original carbon of the plant or animal.

What are the Limitations of Carbon Dating?

1. Carbon dating cannot be used on things which have never lived
because they do not take in carbon from the environment.
Brick, rock and metal are examples of things which have never lived.

2. The amount of carbon-14 in samples is very small. After 9 or 10
half-lives the amount of radioactivity which is emitted by
the sample is too tiny for an accurate count rate to be measured.
Therefore carbon dating cannot be used
to date samples which are more than 50,000 to 60,000 years old.

3. The method of carbon dating uses an assumption
that the amount of carbon-14 present in the past
is the same as that present in the environment today.
If this assumption is not correct then the age
of samples measured by carbon dating is also not correct.

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