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How does carbon dating work for kids – simplesciencenow

As we continue to explore how to identify the age of fossils and dinosaurs, lets summarize what we discovered last week. We saw in How do we know the age of dinosaurs or continents? Part 1, why Carbon was such an important factor for determining the age of the dinosaurs. These were because Carbon has unique properties.

It is a fundamental element for life

    The Cheese pizza of life

Not all Carbons are the same, it has different forms of itself called isotopes

    12 year olds holding 12, 13, and 14 books. The one carrying 14 is unstable

Each form of Carbon is not present in the same amount.

    The ingredients for a cake

Each form of Carbon is equally distributed on Earth

    The food coloring in glass of water

Each form of Carbon in any spot on Earth can then presented in ratiosto each other

    Ratio of ingredients used for baking

We will now build on these properties of Carbon and then put them together to get a complete picture of how Carbon Dating works and is used to determine the age of the dinosaurs and entire continents.

Animals are constantly taking in Carbon, from what they eat or breathe in from the air. However they cannot pick and choose which Carbon they want, they have to take in all forms, Carbon 12, 13, and 14. Yet when they die, they can no longer take in Carbon. We know that our Carbon 12 and 13 will be stable (12 year old with 12 books or 13 books), but our Carbon 14 on the other hand will not be stable (12 year old with 14 books) and will begin to break down into Carbon 12 and 13. Because the animal can no longer intake Carbon this can be used to help determine the age of the fossil we are looking at.

When the wolf breathes in, it takes in all forms of Carbon (12, 13, and 14). This is like the different ingredients from the cake (the air on Earth).

Now that we have looked at our critical pieces we can put them together to find how old the dinosaur fossil is. Going back to our analogy with the cake, each form of Carbon (ingredients) exist in set ratios. Now remembering that animals can intake Carbon and cannot take in more at death, the ratios that exist at the death of the animal is then the exact as the Earth (the ratios in the cake).

    Remember how Carbon 14 is unstable? Carbon 14 starts to break down in set time and the ratios of Carbon 14 to Carbon 12 and 13 start to change. The closer the ratio is to the original Earth or cake ratio, the younger the animal is. The more dramatic shift of ratios, more Carbon 14 has broken down, the older the fossil is. Imagine a cookie,If we leave our cookie out ants are going to come for them! Now lets say these ants only want to eat sugar. The longer the cookie is left out, the more sugar disappears as the ants eat them. This is what happens to the fossil, the longer it is “left out” or around on Earth, the more Carbon 14 (sugar) breaks down.

Our ants will only take the sugar (Carbon 14) from the cookie, leaving the flour and butter (Carbon 12 and 13) untouched.

The amount of Carbon 14 (sugar) broken down with respect to the Carbon 12 and 13 (flour and butter) can be used to determine how old the fossil (cookie) is based on the half life of Carbon 14. Remember that half life is the time it takes for half of the unstable 12 year olds holding 14 books (Carbon 14) to drop books and become stable. We would be comparing the amount of sugar that remained in our cookies vs the amount of butter and flour which we assume remains untouched by the ants. We can use this to get a good estimate on the age of the cookie or fossil.

As the Lion breathes in, he takes in some air which contains Carbon. The Carbon is in set ratios in the air, so he breathes in all forms of Carbon (12, 13, & 14). This process stops when the Lion dies. The set ratios inside the lion will change as unstable Carbon 14 begins to break down.

We can get a general age range of when the dinosaurs Walked the earth by checking multiple dinosaur fossils. This same process could be applied then for land on continents. This is one of the key ways how the age of animals that walked millions of years ago are determined.

Even though Carbon has a very long half life, the Earth’s age in comparison is very old. For some rock there maybe too few Carbon 14 to measure, so other techniques must be used. Despite this Carbon Dating, along with where fossils are found, help give us a glimpse into the past and what earth looked liked long before humans.

Putting together Carbon Dating info collected from multiple fossils, we can get a range of when each type of dinosaur lived and the environment they interacted with.

This is just one of the applications of Nuclear Reaction. Next week we will continue our exploration into Nuclear Reactions looking at how this same break down of unstable atoms has been used to improve peoples lives in medicine.

How do we know the age of dinosaurs or continents is apart of our current Featured Series on Nuclear Reactions where we explore where nuclear reactions are happening, why, and some of their uses. Check out the Featured Series page for past post on Nuclear Reactions and see whats coming up.

Devin Virassammy is a Chemical Engineering student who facilitates discussion at the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley. Devin believes in the power of science to change the world and its ability to be simplified for all ages and backgrounds to understand through life experiences and analogies.

Missed last weeks article? Join our mailing list to be updated whenever a new article is published!

As we continue to explore how to identify the age of fossils and dinosaurs, lets summarize what we discovered last week. We saw in How do we know the age of dinosaurs or continents? Part 1, why Carbon was such an important factor for determining the age of the dinosaurs. These were because Carbon has unique properties.

It is a fundamental element for life

    The Cheese pizza of life

Not all Carbons are the same, it has different forms of itself called isotopes

    12 year olds holding 12, 13, and 14 books. The one carrying 14 is unstable

Each form of Carbon is not present in the same amount.

    The ingredients for a cake

Each form of Carbon is equally distributed on Earth

    The food coloring in glass of water

Each form of Carbon in any spot on Earth can then presented in ratiosto each other

    Ratio of ingredients used for baking

We will now build on these properties of Carbon and then put them together to get a complete picture of how Carbon Dating works and is used to determine the age of the dinosaurs and entire continents.

Animals are constantly taking in Carbon, from what they eat or breathe in from the air. However they cannot pick and choose which Carbon they want, they have to take in all forms, Carbon 12, 13, and 14. Yet when they die, they can no longer take in Carbon. We know that our Carbon 12 and 13 will be stable (12 year old with 12 books or 13 books), but our Carbon 14 on the other hand will not be stable (12 year old with 14 books) and will begin to break down into Carbon 12 and 13. Because the animal can no longer intake Carbon this can be used to help determine the age of the fossil we are looking at.

When the wolf breathes in, it takes in all forms of Carbon (12, 13, and 14). This is like the different ingredients from the cake (the air on Earth).

Now that we have looked at our critical pieces we can put them together to find how old the dinosaur fossil is. Going back to our analogy with the cake, each form of Carbon (ingredients) exist in set ratios. Now remembering that animals can intake Carbon and cannot take in more at death, the ratios that exist at the death of the animal is then the exact as the Earth (the ratios in the cake).

    Remember how Carbon 14 is unstable? Carbon 14 starts to break down in set time and the ratios of Carbon 14 to Carbon 12 and 13 start to change. The closer the ratio is to the original Earth or cake ratio, the younger the animal is. The more dramatic shift of ratios, more Carbon 14 has broken down, the older the fossil is. Imagine a cookie,If we leave our cookie out ants are going to come for them! Now lets say these ants only want to eat sugar. The longer the cookie is left out, the more sugar disappears as the ants eat them. This is what happens to the fossil, the longer it is “left out” or around on Earth, the more Carbon 14 (sugar) breaks down.

Our ants will only take the sugar (Carbon 14) from the cookie, leaving the flour and butter (Carbon 12 and 13) untouched.

The amount of Carbon 14 (sugar) broken down with respect to the Carbon 12 and 13 (flour and butter) can be used to determine how old the fossil (cookie) is based on the half life of Carbon 14. Remember that half life is the time it takes for half of the unstable 12 year olds holding 14 books (Carbon 14) to drop books and become stable. We would be comparing the amount of sugar that remained in our cookies vs the amount of butter and flour which we assume remains untouched by the ants. We can use this to get a good estimate on the age of the cookie or fossil.

As the Lion breathes in, he takes in some air which contains Carbon. The Carbon is in set ratios in the air, so he breathes in all forms of Carbon (12, 13, & 14). This process stops when the Lion dies. The set ratios inside the lion will change as unstable Carbon 14 begins to break down.

We can get a general age range of when the dinosaurs Walked the earth by checking multiple dinosaur fossils. This same process could be applied then for land on continents. This is one of the key ways how the age of animals that walked millions of years ago are determined.

Even though Carbon has a very long half life, the Earth’s age in comparison is very old. For some rock there maybe too few Carbon 14 to measure, so other techniques must be used. Despite this Carbon Dating, along with where fossils are found, help give us a glimpse into the past and what earth looked liked long before humans.

Putting together Carbon Dating info collected from multiple fossils, we can get a range of when each type of dinosaur lived and the environment they interacted with.

This is just one of the applications of Nuclear Reaction. Next week we will continue our exploration into Nuclear Reactions looking at how this same break down of unstable atoms has been used to improve peoples lives in medicine.

How do we know the age of dinosaurs or continents is apart of our current Featured Series on Nuclear Reactions where we explore where nuclear reactions are happening, why, and some of their uses. Check out the Featured Series page for past post on Nuclear Reactions and see whats coming up.

Devin Virassammy is a Chemical Engineering student who facilitates discussion at the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley. Devin believes in the power of science to change the world and its ability to be simplified for all ages and backgrounds to understand through life experiences and analogies.

Missed last weeks article? Join our mailing list to be updated whenever a new article is published!

As we continue to explore how to identify the age of fossils and dinosaurs, lets summarize what we discovered last week. We saw in How do we know the age of dinosaurs or continents? Part 1, why Carbon was such an important factor for determining the age of the dinosaurs. These were because Carbon has unique properties.

It is a fundamental element for life

    The Cheese pizza of life

Not all Carbons are the same, it has different forms of itself called isotopes

    12 year olds holding 12, 13, and 14 books. The one carrying 14 is unstable

Each form of Carbon is not present in the same amount.

    The ingredients for a cake

Each form of Carbon is equally distributed on Earth

    The food coloring in glass of water

Each form of Carbon in any spot on Earth can then presented in ratiosto each other

    Ratio of ingredients used for baking

We will now build on these properties of Carbon and then put them together to get a complete picture of how Carbon Dating works and is used to determine the age of the dinosaurs and entire continents.

Animals are constantly taking in Carbon, from what they eat or breathe in from the air. However they cannot pick and choose which Carbon they want, they have to take in all forms, Carbon 12, 13, and 14. Yet when they die, they can no longer take in Carbon. We know that our Carbon 12 and 13 will be stable (12 year old with 12 books or 13 books), but our Carbon 14 on the other hand will not be stable (12 year old with 14 books) and will begin to break down into Carbon 12 and 13. Because the animal can no longer intake Carbon this can be used to help determine the age of the fossil we are looking at.

When the wolf breathes in, it takes in all forms of Carbon (12, 13, and 14). This is like the different ingredients from the cake (the air on Earth).

Now that we have looked at our critical pieces we can put them together to find how old the dinosaur fossil is. Going back to our analogy with the cake, each form of Carbon (ingredients) exist in set ratios. Now remembering that animals can intake Carbon and cannot take in more at death, the ratios that exist at the death of the animal is then the exact as the Earth (the ratios in the cake).

    Remember how Carbon 14 is unstable? Carbon 14 starts to break down in set time and the ratios of Carbon 14 to Carbon 12 and 13 start to change. The closer the ratio is to the original Earth or cake ratio, the younger the animal is. The more dramatic shift of ratios, more Carbon 14 has broken down, the older the fossil is. Imagine a cookie,If we leave our cookie out ants are going to come for them! Now lets say these ants only want to eat sugar. The longer the cookie is left out, the more sugar disappears as the ants eat them. This is what happens to the fossil, the longer it is “left out” or around on Earth, the more Carbon 14 (sugar) breaks down.

Our ants will only take the sugar (Carbon 14) from the cookie, leaving the flour and butter (Carbon 12 and 13) untouched.

The amount of Carbon 14 (sugar) broken down with respect to the Carbon 12 and 13 (flour and butter) can be used to determine how old the fossil (cookie) is based on the half life of Carbon 14. Remember that half life is the time it takes for half of the unstable 12 year olds holding 14 books (Carbon 14) to drop books and become stable. We would be comparing the amount of sugar that remained in our cookies vs the amount of butter and flour which we assume remains untouched by the ants. We can use this to get a good estimate on the age of the cookie or fossil.

As the Lion breathes in, he takes in some air which contains Carbon. The Carbon is in set ratios in the air, so he breathes in all forms of Carbon (12, 13, & 14). This process stops when the Lion dies. The set ratios inside the lion will change as unstable Carbon 14 begins to break down.

We can get a general age range of when the dinosaurs Walked the earth by checking multiple dinosaur fossils. This same process could be applied then for land on continents. This is one of the key ways how the age of animals that walked millions of years ago are determined.

Even though Carbon has a very long half life, the Earth’s age in comparison is very old. For some rock there maybe too few Carbon 14 to measure, so other techniques must be used. Despite this Carbon Dating, along with where fossils are found, help give us a glimpse into the past and what earth looked liked long before humans.

Putting together Carbon Dating info collected from multiple fossils, we can get a range of when each type of dinosaur lived and the environment they interacted with.

This is just one of the applications of Nuclear Reaction. Next week we will continue our exploration into Nuclear Reactions looking at how this same break down of unstable atoms has been used to improve peoples lives in medicine.

How do we know the age of dinosaurs or continents is apart of our current Featured Series on Nuclear Reactions where we explore where nuclear reactions are happening, why, and some of their uses. Check out the Featured Series page for past post on Nuclear Reactions and see whats coming up.

Devin Virassammy is a Chemical Engineering student who facilitates discussion at the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley. Devin believes in the power of science to change the world and its ability to be simplified for all ages and backgrounds to understand through life experiences and analogies.

Missed last weeks article? Join our mailing list to be updated whenever a new article is published!

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