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How Carbon Dating Works

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In the movies, scientists use “carbon dating” to determine the age of ancient artifacts and dinosaur bones. But what is the real science behind carbon dating, and how does it work? Learn more at HowStuffWorks.com: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geology/carbon-14.htm Share on Facebook: https://goo.gl/Vqhyah Share on Twitter: https://goo.gl/gN9pcu Subscribe: http://goo.gl/ZYI7Gt Visit our site: http://www.brainstuffshow.com SOURCES: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geology/carbon-14.htm/printable http://paleobiology.si.edu/geotime/main/foundation_dating3.html
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Text Comments (454)
Noobist (2 days ago)
yall know that volcanos spew many times more carbon than any atomic bomb ever made right? so, modern human activity probably had little to no effect on the amount of carbon in the air.
IThinkWithMy Dick (8 days ago)
1:29 No need for humans to murder animals for meat.
Alex Thompson (7 days ago)
Yes
Swamp Hawk (9 days ago)
When I first read the title, my stupid brain thought this was a new way to meet singles, and I just hadn't heard of it yet.
Sara Saliaga (10 days ago)
Thx I have a test tomorrow
Rebel (23 days ago)
Atoms don't disappear through decay process dummy, a decayed atom is simply less radioactive.
Tatiana Baquer (26 days ago)
Thx
Tatiana Baquer (26 days ago)
Super interesting.
Chris Ackley (1 month ago)
Can soler flare effect rate
Anita Tromp (1 month ago)
So if I keep eating old fossils and they carbon date me one day t's going to show i'm millions of years old? :P Gonna start right now
Michael Ruiz (1 month ago)
" Nitrogen becomes carbon."  If there was less nitrogen in the atmosphere  for any real length  time would that change test results?
Ravi Bassett (1 month ago)
Anyone here for school?lol
globalswitch17 (2 months ago)
Lol youve gotta be a fuckin moron if you beleive this
Hayden Case (1 month ago)
globalswitch17 So please tell how does this makes him a fuckin moron anyway?
ronald22176 (2 months ago)
then how did the fossils end up million years before, if the carbon dating just have a limit of only thousands of years?
Alex Thompson (7 days ago)
I think they use other dating methods but it seems strange since ink, dino blood cells and soft tissue have been found in things dated dozens of millions of years ago.
Leanne Fresquez (2 months ago)
This guy has no energy or excitement. He's so boring. Liven up some guy
paul spring (2 months ago)
3:36 explains more than anything before it...
paul spring (2 months ago)
Just for reference: https://youtu.be/NkQtmO-PX2w
paul spring (2 months ago)
Found my new "Go To Sleep" video. Sweeeeet
Clara Huang (2 months ago)
could you do a video on how electron spin resonance dating works
ayesha khan (2 months ago)
so great sir
Anthony Ortiz (2 months ago)
his use of the word roughly worries me. Ive always known accepted timelines are wayyy off.
Mad Michael (2 months ago)
That's all good but how do scientists measure these things? What machines or equipment do they use to find what you said? Can I go around and start carbon date things if I know more details? (it's a rhetorical question)
adankseason ADS (2 months ago)
Is this stoner science or something? His accent/tone is surprising to me lol.
Khem-Teth Adamus-Kadmon (2 months ago)
Carbon Datin is a lie. No different than gravity.
Hayden Case A human.
Hayden Case (1 month ago)
So what are you exactly?
Hayden Case I’m not an anythin. I only deal with observable, provable facts. I am not a flat earther, but I do know that I am not a believer of the factless theory that we are on some basketball spinnin a million miles an hour thru space after a random explosion exploded for no reason out of nothingness that proceeded to create everythin in perfect order. That’s what I know I am not. Anythin else?
Hayden Case (1 month ago)
So are you a creationist , are you a flat earther or are you both of them?
Hayden Case U can read can’t u.
Georgi Dimov (2 months ago)
It takes faith to claim that the meteorites have no other source of half-dead material, an interesting religion is evolution. Also, C14 is not the same amount as it was 50 years ago and it was even less than 5,000 years ago, so finding a dead animal and not knowing how much C14 there was when it died because you do not know when it died how you calculate it without faith and imagination? Equilibrium of C14 is not yet on the planet and is still growing.
Jake Gopita (2 months ago)
honestly, i don't get it what carbon dating means because the speaker is not good at all in explaining, it should be clearly w/ concrete example not just 50, 000 yrs what about the Dino which live million yrs ago....lol.. he should have comparison or model to visualize the concept of carbon dating...
The Muslim Dude (3 months ago)
What if the carbon 14 dating evidences were currupted in the past too? duo to natural geothermal activity or by other means?
rich lopez (3 months ago)
For dry itchy eyes use clear eye... wooooowwww! This guy should do visine commercials
SerElbass (3 months ago)
So... is it inaccurate to predict the times of the dinosaurs? Or is there another method? Just a noob with questions!
Sean-Justin Lattimore (3 months ago)
How do scientists account for changing conditions? Surely this would change the decay rate.
D T (3 months ago)
Did I forget to lock my desk mmmm oh yeah Carbon 15
Pollution X (3 months ago)
how do you know how much carbon 14 did it originally have?
FondofHonda (4 months ago)
Could a big solar flare(s) effect the ratio of carbon 12 and 14?
crazy ZONE (4 months ago)
Why don't you add subtitles yar....many may not understand your slang
YourTube (4 months ago)
Awesomely explained carbon dating A small suggestion,just add a subtitle
علي القحطاني (4 months ago)
I can only imagine the amount of math that was needed to calculate how old is earth..
Josué Artaud (4 months ago)
Is the earth 6000 + 18 year old or still 6000?
Tony4nderson (13 days ago)
According to the jewish calendar it's 5779 years 😉
Tuxedo Steve (2 months ago)
Josué Artaud it was never 6000 Years old.
MrBonners (5 months ago)
Dinosaur 'bones' are rock, you can not carbon date rock.
litlikeiz (5 months ago)
what
Lamia Kerri (5 months ago)
It's useless to answer questions asked by kids here. They still believe in fairy tales. Complex facts explained by science need higher intelligence to understand them. So weaker minds, just go and read your fairy tales and stop asking questions on basic stuff here. xD
Nicholas Coker (5 months ago)
3:01 any necrophilliacs about?
Max Derinskiy (5 months ago)
Sounds like it works but how do you know those carbon fossils weren’t contaminated at some point with other substances that may have delayed or sped up the carbon decay in that plant or animal?
Michael Harto (5 months ago)
if a time traveler brought back an item from the past, the carbon dating of the item would not include the time span from which he took the item in the past to the present, right?
Good info!!!
Sick Boy (6 months ago)
You were great in the avengers, but I hate your more serious films.
mahmoud tomaize (6 months ago)
woooow this information got explained well,,, i was searching everywhere actually how the first ratio exists before carbon 14 start decaying
Rebeca Amador (6 months ago)
I had to up the speed bc he talks like drunk Hank (Hank at half speed)
Lord of Command (6 months ago)
3:02 I'm trying to date something that lived on Earth within the last 40 years preferably.
SharikaPaprika (7 months ago)
So... are you in any way or form related to It'sAlexClark-?
Louis S (7 months ago)
I was arguing with my friends, drunk, about evolution and religion deities. I tried to explain that the Earth has been proven to be more than 6000 years old, referencing carbon dating as tangible evidence but they said; "Have you tried using carbon dating yourself? The Government tells you what you want to hear". Then they referenced shadow government(?). How can I respond to that lol.
Joshua Penner (7 months ago)
Some parts make it sound like he is high XD
Toonz Brah (7 months ago)
Carbon dating is such bullshit. It’s weathering that does it.
Number 16 bus shelter (7 months ago)
so you can date anything that lived on earth in the last 50 000 years?
antimatterfire (7 months ago)
so carbon dating is not accurate it is just an estimate of how old it is. so if the earth was bombarded with nuclear bombs at one point, that means that the atoms would read as if they were older then they should be, right? because, this is just a theory and should remain as a theory not a fact. beacue that method of dating is cool, but its not accurate enuogh to say it is truth and fact.
Renee Trep (7 months ago)
YOU CAN'T USE RADIOCARBON (c14) DATING ON DINO BONES
Stuart Law (7 months ago)
No evidence no examples you can say it does if you can't show how you figured this out you haven't proved your rule
miss carbo (8 months ago)
👀
Anthony Hidcor (8 months ago)
Humans cannot tell how old a piece of rock is, get over it.... Science is cool but is also a great tool used to fool the ignorants
Kasper (8 months ago)
get some sleep dude
Cedar Poplar (8 months ago)
In other words - scientist don't really have a clue other than their big egos?! well, I guess we all go back to square one. specially for suckers like me!
Sir I.K Elzyy (8 months ago)
So if if I was to die 19 years ago. Would the results come to 19 years roughly the amount
Wow....... I'm just a high school student passing by doing a mini project due tomorrow don't mind me. But wow to comments tho my head already hurts
Extreme Weather (9 months ago)
how do you determine if a carbon atom was once in something alive rather than just a piece of stone?
Ranjit (9 months ago)
Can they use car on 12 to measure older things.?
Object Audio (9 months ago)
If 100,000 years ago the earth had less carbon-14 (we have no idea if it did) then everything before then wasn't as old as it shows when tested??? I'm only saying because I find dinosaurs datings overwhelmingly old
BezoomnyBratchny (9 months ago)
It's irrelevant what the ratio of C14 to C12 was 100,000 years ago because C14 has a half life of 5730 years so it's only measurable to 50,000 years or so and as such, carbon dating isn't used to date anything older than that.
ZEI BEATZ (9 months ago)
what this person explained is exactly the reason why carbon dating does not work. it does not give you the correct date 'roughly is NOT CORRECT' I have this on repeat 3:09. no such thing as a half truth.
BezoomnyBratchny (9 months ago)
Except that the error bars are known and are published alongside the dates.
Jaime Suarez (10 months ago)
Just seeing your face I feel I wanna fall asleep
How to determine half life or what is the process of half life... I don't get it! I think this is a big deal to unlock between creationists and evolutionist! Otherwise, people would listening to a fairy tale or a made up stories both by creationist and evolutionist!
David Humphrys (10 months ago)
Very superficial. Show the actual math and technical process!
Sean Haggard (11 months ago)
I've tried carbon dating. One day I'll find the right one.
Matt Frost (1 month ago)
Remember to be...positive. ;)
Mike Mike (2 months ago)
Ha!😄
ramu kumar (3 months ago)
Sean Haggard chup bee 😘😘
ArmadilloSusan (11 months ago)
Very funny to read how "science does not work" from people relying on computers, modern medicine and cars to do most everything they do.
IThinkWithMy Dick (8 days ago)
Christurds are INFINITELY hypocritical. They believe PROVABLY FALSE BULLSHIT like the bible that ancient goat fuckers made up, but then they SHIT all over science & engineering & technology.
Maria Ayala (10 months ago)
This isn't science. It not an observable fact, carbon dating is based almost completely on assumptions. Suppose you walk into a room, and see a burning candle on the table and I ask you the question when was it lit? Okay so lets do some empirical science which is things we can test and measure and observe and test. Not theoretical. Empirical, we can measure and weight it. 1. lets measure the heigh of the candle, suppose its 7 inches tall. Who can tell me when it was lit? 2. Lets measure the rate of burn, lets say 1" / hour. When was it lit? You're gonna have a hard time telling me unless you're willing to make some assumptions. How tall was it when it started? Heres an answer, you don't know. Has It always burned at the same rate? No idea. Say you find a fossil in the dirt and you can measure how much C-14 is in it. You can measure accurately, and can measure how fast its decaying. Thats just like measuring the height of the candle and how fast its burning. Now when did that animal die?? You don't have a clue. Unless you assume the rate of decay has always been the same, and you assume the c-14 it had when it was alive is the same what we have today. Living penguins carbon dated 8,000 years old. Stupid. Its still alive! Shells from living snail dated 27,000 years old. Thats stupid he's still alive. Yeah they're slow but 27,000 years he'd be dead. One part of a mammoth is 29,500 years old, and another part 44,000. Now you can probably see how funny I find it to read the comments of people talking about how evolution is a fact. Its stupid. (Now copy pasted this to the first comment I replied to, to about 3 different replies). Computers, medicine, cars, engineering, yes I agree that is true science! Evolution & Big Bang is not. Its stupid, and a religion. A stupid one.
Jimmy John (11 months ago)
Kind of had my interest before he went into a subtle diatribe of global warming bullshit.
Thor Kampmann (1 year ago)
not actually explaining how to measure the ratios of c14-c12. bad video
James Steele (1 year ago)
You would need to avarage the amount of carbon 14 found in spacific plant life while it would have still been alive, then once this has been agreed apone for that type of organic material.....Then you would know roughlty through the examples how old somthing was, how much C14 would originally be present in the plant life at the time vs how much is left in it today.... But then how can you know for sure what rate it's decaying at unless the condions where always constant for each sample? Also you would need to multiply the rate of decay knowing how much cabbon is released within the scope of testing it in experiment ...so it has me wondering how full proof the readings round be, probably not as muc has we're lead to believe, but that dosn't mean you can take a leap and say the earth is only 6000 years old either so I guess it's all speculation and supposition on both sides and we're back to square one, nobody can say with absolute certainty and accuracy how long earth and humans have been here
So where do you take something to get it carbon-dated?
Dr. Wier (5 months ago)
Most churches can help you with that. Otherwise go to a mosque.
Torpedo Tekkers (7 months ago)
Ima carbon date yo momma
Jay J (1 year ago)
I thought we used carbon dating to date things over 50 thousand years old. So how are we dating things back 300 or 100 million years back?
Ricahrd P'Brien (1 year ago)
Various radiometric dating methods. There is not enough of the carbon isotope left to get an accurate reading for specimens much older than 50 thousand years.
Ankur Goyal (1 year ago)
pyramids and books were not alive - how do you date them .. the stone can be 5000 years old, constructed 1000 years back, but the date will show 3500 years - messing up real history?
Ji&Jy J-J (1 year ago)
How do they know that half carbon 14 is 5730 years old?
Radiometric and carbon dating *only work* when it confirms my religious beleifs!
BoMwarriorVlog (1 year ago)
My own question about reliability of carbon dating: How do "they" know that the right sample is tested everytime? I watched a #Unearthed episode recently on TV (the #ScienceChannel) about #Stonehenge and the tester commented that if the wrong thing was picked up by the test (like soil or certain ash) then it could throw off the results by hundreds of years. I'm not against the science, but wondering if scientists are being close-minded to the fact that some things are more recent than we all think? And also for strict-creationists, if things could be a little later than they think?
Mr Obvious (10 months ago)
Why do you assume the sample would be skewed older? If you have a sample older than 50,000 and you introduce carbon 14 to it, the sample will appear younger than it actually is, and the smallest amount would say it died at least within the last 50000 years which would be way off. To make something appear older you would have to change the rate of decay or the rate carbon 14 is produced in the atmosphere, or somehow remove carbon 14 from the sample(most likely contamination problem). Ice cores are one way, among several, to double check the amount of carbon in the atmosphere from a long time ago since ice doesn't eat carbon so the atmosphere is the only way for it to get there, and they only need to go back 50000 years as it doesn't matter after that point anyway since all of the carbon 14 will be decayed. Obviously, you need to figure out the rate of snowfall to know how deep is what age to compare, so alone this method is not enough but we have several ways and they must be cross-checked for consistency. Close-minded? I don't know about that. Scientists are defensive about people obviously making up reasons to say it doesn't work, but few if any real scientists(not YouTube scientists) will say it can't be contaminated. I think what makes scientists so defensive is when someone uses results that are very likely contaminated to say that the science is wrong, kind of a cheap shot. Contamination is actually the reasoning scientists usually provide when we get results that seem illogical(from a scientists perspective). Like testing dinosaur bones that we suspect to be very very old... millions of years. If you have it tested, all the carbon 14 will be decayed but there might be protective residue on it if say, it was in a museum, not cleaned properly, or not sampled properly. That will force invalid results due to the carbon in the protective resin. This really happened, and it's common to hear this dinosaur bone argument. Frankly, I don't know why creationists care because they can still say God created it. Only matters to me when they want it to be 6000 years old or something seemingly ridiculous, and that causes problems with more than just carbon dating.
MrPorkncheese (1 year ago)
A lot of assumptions like i heard the carbon 14 content in the atmosphere is 0.000075%. Now the stuff gets on plants and animals eat them. So we have to now assume that carbon 14 is in every part of the body at the same 0.000075%. From our liver, blood, bones, everything. Big assumption. And the half life. Are we just to take your word for it. That figure is not gospel. Then you have the factors in which these fossils where in, what they where in contact with, etc. But the funniest thimg is if it is only limited to 60,000 years then how are these biological philosiphers claiming modern humans are 200,000 years old and the earth is 6.6 billion years. How?
James Sanchez (1 year ago)
Excellent video, really liked your one liner at the end!
Torpedo Tekkers (7 months ago)
it sucked
StarCrush 3000 (1 year ago)
Thanks vlog bros!!!
Vvp (1 year ago)
That didn't really answer the question.
Joseph Celeste (1 year ago)
what a joke
Mr Obvious (10 months ago)
Derp
Life (1 year ago)
thank you for the video. how to measure something older than 50,000 years old?
Maria Ayala (10 months ago)
There is not way. Its all assumptions :O
Aaron Richardson (10 months ago)
There are many forms of radiometric dating; to measure the approximate age of rock beyond 50000 years, scientists will often employ multiple tests that involve different isotopes with MUCH longer half-lives than Carbon-14.
Joe (1 year ago)
He mentioned 20th century nuclear bombing messing with the atmosphere for the future. Doesn't it mess with the atmosphere now?
Frans Sheya (1 year ago)
If this works, then there was no evolution... right?
Nicholas Mannering (1 year ago)
another reason to become more sustainable in the future. the end of carbon dating!!
Cole Tanner (1 year ago)
All science lovers need to watch this. It clearly says the limit to carbon 14 dating is 50K years. Anything before that...nobody knows if it's 60K or 60M years old.
TJack Survival (1 year ago)
Is the production of Carbon 14 actually reliable? Has the atmosphere actually reached equilibrium? The jury is still out on that one.
rin neknekmo (1 year ago)
i was here to know carbon dating..then i realize my brain does not cooperating
Alki Malk (1 year ago)
carbon "dating" does NOT work.
Maria Ayala (10 months ago)
Thumbs up for you
Yukana Kochi (1 year ago)
Tip: Set speed to 1.25. That way the guy is speaking at a normal speed.
mishkah banks (1 year ago)
wow, this video actually helped me out so much.
Maria Ayala (10 months ago)
(Sorry to break it to you but this is 100% bs. It all based on assumptions :) )
Plubus Domis (1 year ago)
Perfectly explained. We have to guess the original amount of C14 in something, then we can determine how many half lives it has gone through to find a date. Key part - we guess from the beginning. This guy Really knows what he's talking about. C14 testing has serious faults also due to industrialization and nuclear warfare that both seriously distort that particular information. Another slam. C14 Testing debunked yall.
SuperGamer87 (1 year ago)
To be fair, just for accuracy's sake, finding a wooden ax handle wouldn't in itself prove it's 12,000 years old. Just that the wood is at least as old. Determining the age of the wood's manipulation is determined by other supplementary means of investigation.
SuperGamer87 (1 year ago)
So, who else is here just to see how good or bad a job these guys do explaining this stuff? A lot of guys are smart, but not all that great as presenters. Some guys are great presenters, but not all that careful as teachers. There's an art to teaching science. Hard to master both sides.
Micah Buzan (1 year ago)
Very funny to read the comments of young earth creationists talking about how science doesn't work.
IThinkWithMy Dick (8 days ago)
Religionists just make up worthless shit like the bible & koran & god & jesus just to brainwash others and to silence atheists & Marxists.
IThinkWithMy Dick (8 days ago)
T.A.S. Studios you know NOTHING about what scientists do. And there is NOTHING true about the bible. ZERO evidence of gods.
IThinkWithMy Dick (8 days ago)
+T.A.S. Studios Shitheads who don't have jobs as scientists already do science every day when they make conclusions based upon observations. But the non-scientists are SHITTY at proving thing, at doing science. That is why they make up LIES and BULLSHIT about celebrities being "guilty" of a "crime".
IThinkWithMy Dick (8 days ago)
+lzpf07 Then ALL your ASSUMPTIONS about what you THINK you see, ALL your ASSUMPTIONS about who is guilty of a crime or not, are FALSE, because NOBODY is doing objective science, then. EVERYBODY is JUST MAKING ASSUMPTIONS. So, therefore, why aren't you demanding everybody be released from jail?
IThinkWithMy Dick (8 days ago)
+Maria Ayala Since you creaturds are so certain of your bullshit, then PROVE it and PUBLISH it.
Mangesh Powar (1 year ago)
great video thanks buddy... helped a lot
Torpedo Tekkers (7 months ago)
hey buddy maybe you need some mental help too
Michael Groesbeck (1 year ago)
How do they know if radioactive decay is accelerated or not? Carbon Dating is still unreliable because no one can tell me the answer.
Andy (1 year ago)
Because they've explored everything that could alter the decay rates and tested them against those conditions. Subjecting them to extreme temperature changes and extreme pressures for example. They've also checked decay rates at different times in history by measuring the gamma rays produced by isotopes that form in supernovae explosions. For example, the supernova SN1987A is 169,000 light years away. The rate at which the light from its gamma rays fades are consistent with today's decay rates. Therefore, decay rates were the same 169,000 years ago as they are today. And supernova SN1991T is 600,000 light years away. The rate at which the light from its gamma rays fades is consistent with today's decay rates. Therefore, decay rates were also the same 600,000 years ago as they are today. And so on and so on.
RoAcH812 (1 year ago)
thumbs down are from creatards who don't understand SCIENCE
Louis S (7 months ago)
You've practically replied to every person who does not believe carbon dating is a farce, THEN you go on to reason that because it is not completely accurate, evolution is a "religion", or "silly". You have SERIOUS problems woman. "Are you dumb you don't understand you're own religion. What you are taught" Bitch didn't even finish high school. No wonder you write such unreasonable assumption. My goodness.
Maria Ayala (10 months ago)
Can you define science for me?
Maria Ayala (10 months ago)
This isn't science. It not an observable fact, carbon dating is based almost completely on assumptions. Suppose you walk into a room, and see a burning candle on the table and I ask you the question when was it lit? Okay so lets do some empirical science which is things we can test and measure and observe and test. Not theoretical. Empirical, we can measure and weight it. 1. lets measure the heigh of the candle, suppose its 7 inches tall. Who can tell me when it was lit? 2. Lets measure the rate of burn, lets say 1" / hour. When was it lit? You're gonna have a hard time telling me unless you're willing to make some assumptions. How tall was it when it started? Heres an answer, you don't know. Has It always burned at the same rate? No idea. Say you find a fossil in the dirt and you can measure how much C-14 is in it. You can measure accurately, and can measure how fast its decaying. Thats just like measuring the height of the candle and how fast its burning. Now when did that animal die?? You don't have a clue. Unless you assume the rate of decay has always been the same, and you assume the c-14 it had when it was alive is the same what we have today. Living penguins carbon dated 8,000 years old. Stupid. Its still alive! Shells from living snail dated 27,000 years old. Thats stupid he's still alive. Yeah they're slow but 27,000 years he'd be dead. One part of a mammoth is 29,500 years old, and another part 44,000. Now you can probably see how funny I find it to read the comments of people talking about how evolution is a fact. Its stupid.
Maria Ayala (10 months ago)
Are you dumb you don't understand you're own religion. What you are taught

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