Is carbon dating really reliable
C-14 is constantly being produced when cosmic rays strike the upper atmosphere.
Cosmic rays hit gasses in the upper atmosphere and knock off neutrons.
The rate of decay is considered constant and measurable, and is expressed by the term “half life.”Half life can be understood, for our purpose, by thinking of a block of ice. The time it takes to melt until it weighs only 5 pounds (half the original weight) is called its “half life.” For this example, let’s say the ice takes five hours to melt from 10 pounds down to 5 pounds. This is not exactly the way C-14 acts, but it serves our purpose.
Unlike ice melting, the half life of carbon and other unstable elements is constant.
It would take an additional 5,730 years for the 50 pounds to decay to only 25 pounds, and so on, halving the amount of C-14 every 5,730 years.
When C-14 is formed, it begins to break down into nitrogen as it loses an electron from the nucleus.
Once a living thing dies, it stops absorbing both C-12 and C-14.The ratio of C-12 to C-14 is approximately 1 billion to one in today’s atmosphere.All living things, directly or indirectly, absorb carbon from the atmosphere.Notice that something must have been alive to absorb C-12 and C-14.Therefore it is not possible to date inorganic material.