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?

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For example, in 1991, two hikers discovered a mummified man, preserved for centuries in the ice on an alpine mountain.

Later called Ötzi the Iceman, small samples from his body were carbon dated by scientists.

But they could not say just how long such processes had taken, and thus how old their fossils were.

Darwin had argued that the Earth was immensely old — which gave his gradual process of evolution plenty of time to unfold.

There's a small amount of radioactive carbon-14 in all living organisms.

When they die no new carbon-14 is taken in by the dead organism.Each isotope is identified with what is called a ‘mass number’.When ‘parent’ uranium-238 decays, for example, it produces subatomic particles, energy and ‘daughter’ lead-206.To understand radiocarbon dating, you first have to understand the word Although an element’s number of protons cannot change, the number of neutrons can vary slightly from each atom.Atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes. Most carbon on Earth exists as the very stable isotope carbon-12, with a very small amount as carbon-13.The great physicist Lord Kelvin had countered that the planet was actually relatively young — perhaps 20 million years old.