Radiocarbon Dating

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The Gist

When a living organism dies, it is no longer taking in carbon, due to the cessation of all metabolic processes. Carbon-14, an isotope of carbon, slowly decays with a half-life of 5,730 years.  The proportion of Carbon-12 to Carbon-14 is constant with other living organisms. Hence, you can look at how much Carbon-14 is left relative to the Carbon-12 remaining to determine the age.