Definition carbon dating kids
The atoms of some chemical elements have different forms, called isotopes.These break down over time in a process scientists call radioactive decay.When ‘parent’ uranium-238 decays, for example, it produces subatomic particles, energy and ‘daughter’ lead-206.Isotopes are important to geologists because each radioactive element decays at a constant rate, which is unique to that element.This process is not when two carbon atoms go out to the mall one night.Carbon dating is when scientists try to measure the age of very old substances.
If we look at the C-14 atom one more time, we find that C-14 does not last forever.
There is even a radioactive isotope of carbon, carbon-14. C-14 has two extra neutrons and a half-life of 5730 years.
Scientists use C-14 in a process called carbon dating.
If you have looked at a periodic table, you may have noticed that the atomic mass of an element is rarely an even number. If you are an atom with an extra electron, it's no big deal.
As you learn more about chemistry, you will probably hear about carbon-14. C-14 is considered an isotope of the element carbon.
For carbon, there are a lot of C-12, a couple of C-13, and a few C-14 atoms.