Today, scientists attempt to determine the age of dead organisms by measuring the ratio of C-12 to C-14, by comparing it to an assumed but unobserved initial ratio, and determining how long it would take to get from the assumed but unobserved initial ratio at an assumed but unobserved rate of decay.Here are the key assumptions: There is one fact that makes it highly unreasonable to believe that the proportion of C-14 to C-12 was the same in the past as it has been in recent history: It is not in equilibrium.
It is impossible to determine whether it has always been increasing (as argued by some creationists) or whether it has undergone cycles of increase and decrease (as argued by other creationists and evolutionary scientists).But one thing is certain: there is no reason to believe that the C-14: C-12 proportion has been constant throughout time, and good reason to believe it has been different, and often lower, in the past than it is today.If the C-14 content of the atmosphere was lower in the past, that means that Carbon dating results today are inflated, because the calculations will mistake the absence of C-14 in the original sample as years which passed by causing the C-14 to decay.Carbon-14 dating is a radiometric dating technique used to deduce the approximate age of organic remains by measuring the quantity of C-14 isotopes in the sample and comparing them with current atmospheric levels.C-12 and C-14 are two different isotopes of carbon.
C-12 is stable, meaning it does not decay into other elements over time. It is formed when cosmic radiation strikes N-14 (Nitrogen), converting it into C-14, and it decays back into N-14, with a half-life of 5730 years, meaning that for any sample of C-14, half of it will decay back into N-14 every 5730 years.
Carbon-14 is used to date dead plants and animals, because plants and animals incorporate C-14 into their bodies by eating, drinking, and breathing in an environment containing C-14.
Through the life of the organism, the proportion of C-14 to C-12 reaches the same proportion as in the rest of the environment.
When the organism dies, however, it ceases to incorporate carbon into its body.
At this point, and for the years following, the C-14 in the sample begins to decay back into N-14, while the C-12 does not decay.
Both C-14 and C-12 are lost as the body decays, but they are lost proportionally, so that the proportion of C-14 to C-12 decreases slowly for thousands of years after the death of the organism.