How does potassium 40 dating work

By measuring the proportion of carbon-14 in organic material, scientists can determine an organic artifact's date of death.Because the half-life of carbon-14 is short, the older a specimen is, the greater the margin of error becomes.

Once a living thing dies, it cannot take up any fresh carbon-14, so the carbon-14 that is contained within its body will decay, and will not be renewed.A further issue is known as the "old wood" problem.It is possible, particularly in dry, desert climates, for organic materials such as dead trees to remain in their natural state for hundreds of years before people use them as firewood, after which they become part of the archaeological record.Other radiometric dating techniques are available for earlier periods.One of the most widely used is potassium-argon dating (K-Ar dating).

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