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In the following section we are going to go more in-depth about carbon dating in order to help you get a better understanding of how it works.
Radiocarbon dating is a method of estimating the age of organic material.
Cosmic rays enter the earth's atmosphere in large numbers every day and when one collides with an atom in the atmosphere, it can create a secondary cosmic ray in the form of an energetic neutron.
When these energetic neutrons collide with a nitrogen-14 (seven protons, seven neutrons) atom it turns into a carbon-14 atom (six protons, eight neutrons) and a hydrogen atom (one proton, zero neutrons).
Later called Ötzi the Iceman, small samples from his body were carbon dated by scientists.
Protons and neutrons make up the center (nucleus) of the atom, and electrons form shells around the nucleus.
It can be used on objects as old as about 62,000 years.
Follow the links below to learn more about radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon dating uses carbon isotopes A special kind of radiocarbon dating: Bomb radiocarbon dating What is an isotope?
Once an organism dies, it stops taking in carbon-14.
The carbon-14 it contained at the time of death decays over a long period of time, and the radioactivity of the material decreases.