zeke - 1/20/2006 2:15:06 AM
The theory of carbon dating is simple enough, scientists know that carbon-14 naturally occurs in small amounts. Although it decays into nitrogen-14 through beta decay, the amount of carbon-14 remains constant because new carbon-14 is always being created in the atmosphere by cosmic rays. Living things ingest materials that have carbon in them. Once the creature dies it no longer gets new carbon and the carbon in the creature slowly decays. By measuring the carbon-14 in the remains and by a few assumptions like the assumption that the amount of carbon on earth remains the same throughout time scientists can estimate when a creature died.