Question

A fossil was analyzed and determined to have a carbon-14 level that is 80.0 that of living…

A fossil was analyzed and determined to have a carbon-14 level that is 80.0 % that of living organisms. How old is the fossil?

All living things contain carbon. Most of this carbon is stable carbon-12. However, a small percentage will be carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of carbon that decayswith time. As living things eat and breath, carbon is constantly recycled and therefore the percentage of carbon-14 remains constant. It's not until death that thepercentage of carbon-14 will begin to diminish from decay. Because radioactive decay is a first-order process, the integrated rate law for a first-order reaction canbe rewritten as
Fraction Remaining= 0.5^(t/t1/2)

where t is the time elapsed and t 1/2 is the half-life. The half-life of C-14 is 5730 years.

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