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Note that, contrary to a popular misconception, carbon dating is not used to date rocks at millions of years old.
Before we get into the details of how radiometric dating methods are used, we need to review some preliminary concepts from chemistry.
Radiocarbon dating is a method of estimating the age of organic material.
It was developed right after World War II by Willard F.
The method was developed by Willard Libby in the late 1940s and soon became a standard tool for archaeologists.
Libby received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960.
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.
The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.
The resulting radiocarbon combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis; animals then acquire in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.
Recall that atoms are the basic building blocks of matter.
Atoms are made up of much smaller particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons.