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The accompanying table shows the reduction of a quantity as a function of the number of half-lives elapsed.Simulation of many identical atoms undergoing radioactive decay, starting with either 4 atoms per box (left) or 400 (right).

Follow the links in this post to learn more about radiocarbon dating.Most radiocarbon dating today is done using an accelerator mass spectrometer, an instrument that directly counts the numbers of carbon 14 and carbon12 in a sample.A detailed description of radiocarbon dating is available at the Wikipedia radiocarbon dating web page.As we mentioned above, the carbon-14 to carbon-12 ratio in the atmosphere remains nearly constant.It’s not absolutely constant due to several variables that affect the levels of cosmic rays reaching the atmosphere, such as the fluctuating strength of the Earth’s magnetic field, solar cycles that influence the amount of cosmic rays entering the solar system, climatic changes, and human activities.

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