Credit: RHYS LEWIS, AHS, DECD, UNISA/EQUINOX GRAPHICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Carbon dating. Animation of how a radioactive isotope of carbon can be used to date objects containing organic matter. This is known as carbon dating or radiocarbon dating. The start of the animation shows a cosmic ray (blue) impacting a particle in the atmosphere (in this case a proton, red) to produce a neutron (yellow). This neutron then impacts the nucleus of the non-radioactive isotope nitrogen-14 (causing emission of a proton), turning it into the radioactive isotope carbon-14. This carbon-14 is taken up by plants in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). The animation shows a mammoth eating the plants, taking up the carbon-14. A landslide kills the mammoth and the process of fossilisation begins. The carbon-14 changes back to nitrogen-14 by the emission of radiation. Over geologic time, the radioactivity due to the carbon-14 decreases in a known fashion (graph). This allows fossils and other objects to be dated by measuring the current levels of radiation due to the remaining carbon-14. The oldest objects that can be reliably measured in this way are from around 50,000 years ago.

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Keywords: analytical technique, animal, animated, animation, atmosphere, atmospheric, atomic nucleus, atoms, biological, biology, carbon, carbon dating, carbon dioxide, carbon-14, chemical, chemistry, cosmic ray, date, dead, fauna, fossil, fossilisation, fossilization, gas, geologic time, graph, historical, history, isotope, isotopes, landslide, mammoth, natural history, nature, neutron, neutrons, nitrogen, nitrogen-14, no-one, nobody, palaeontology, paleontology, plants, prehistoric, prehistory, proton, protons, radiation, radioactive, radiocarbon dating, radiochemistry, radioisotope, radioisotopes, time, wildlife, zoological, zoology

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Carbon dating, animation

K005/2028 Rights Managed

Downloadable master

Duration: 00:01:23.14

Frame size: 1920x1080

Frame rate: 25

Audio: No

Format: QuickTime, Photo JPEG 100%, progressive scan, square pixels

File size: 1.7G

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Capture format: QuickTime Animation

Codec: PNG

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