Welcome to the K12 section of the Radiocarbon WEBinfo site.
The aim here is to provide clear, understandable information relating to radiocarbon dating for the benefit of K12 students, as well as lay people who are not requiring detailed information about the method of radiocarbon dating itself.
Rasmus Nyerup's quote reminds us of the tremendous scientific advances which have taken place in the 20th century.
It might take a millisecond, or it might take a century. But if you have a large enough sample, a pattern begins to emerge.We know that it is older than Christendom, but whether by a couple of years or a couple of centuries, or even by more than a millenium, we can do no more than guess." [Rasmus Nyerup, (Danish antiquarian), 1802 (in Trigger, 19)].The person who wrote these words lived in the 1800s, many years before archaeologists could accurately date materials from archaeological sites using scientific methods.If you have a fossil, you can tell how old it is by the carbon 14 dating method.This is a formula which helps you to date a fossil by its carbon.If a fossil contains 60% of its original carbon, how old is the fossil? That means this is how long it takes for half the nuclei to decay.