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This method includes carbon dating and thermoluminescence.
The absolute dating method first appeared in 1907 with Lord Rutherford and Professor Boltwood at Yale University, but wasn’t accepted until the 1950s.
C-14 is produced in the upper atmosphere when nitrogen-14 (N-14) is altered through the effects of cosmic radiation bombardment (a proton is displaced by a neutron effectively changing the nitrogen atom into a carbon isotope).
The new isotope is called "radiocarbon" because it is radioactive, though it is not dangerous.
Specimens which lived and died during a period of intense volcanism would appear older than they really are if they were dated using this technique.
The ratio can further be affected by C-14 production rates in the atmosphere, which in turn is affected by the amount of cosmic rays penetrating the earth's atmosphere.
The amount of cosmic rays penetrating the earth's atmosphere is itself affected by things like the earth's magnetic field which deflects cosmic rays.
It takes about 5,730 years for half of a sample of radiocarbon to decay back into nitrogen.
This isotope, which can be found in organic materials and can be used only to date organic materials, has been incorrectly used by many to make dating assumptions for non-organic material such as stone buildings.
The half-life of C is approximately 5730 years, which is too short for this method to be used to date material millions of years old.
Plants and animals naturally incorporate both the abundant C-12 isotope and the much rarer radiocarbon isotope into their tissues in about the same proportions as the two occur in the atmosphere during their lifetimes.
When a creature dies, it ceases to consume more radiocarbon while the C-14 already in its body continues to decay back into nitrogen.