Radiocarbon dating definition for kids

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Radiocarbon dating is a method used to date materials that once exchanged carbon dioxide with the atmosphere; in other words, things that were living.

Once the organism dies, the amount of carbon-14 reduces by the fixed half-life - or the time required for half of the original sample of radioactive nuclei to decay - of 5,730 years, and can be measured by scientists for up to 10 half-lives.

Measuring the amount of radioactive carbon-14 remaining makes it possible to work out how old the artifact is, whether it's a fossilized skeleton or a magnificent piece of artwork.

It is often used on valuable artwork to confirm authenticity.

For example, look at this image of the opening of King Tutankhamen's tomb near Luxor, Egypt during the 1920s.

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