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By testing the amount of carbon stored in an object, and comparing to the original amount of carbon Unfortunately, the believed amount of carbon present at the time of expiration is exactly that: a belief, an assumption, an estimate.
It is very difficult for scientists to know how much carbon would have originally been present; one of the ways in which they have tried to overcome this difficulty was through using carbon equilibrium.
For example, it is well known that carbon dating cannot be used on many types of marine life due to reservoirs of "old" carbon held in sedimentary rocks.Specifically, there are two types of carbon found in organic materials: carbon 12 (C-12) and carbon 14 (C-14).It is imperative to remember that the material must have been alive at one point to absorb the carbon, meaning that carbon dating of rocks or other inorganic objects is nothing more than inaccurate guesswork.All living things absorb both types of carbon; but once it dies, it will stop absorbing.The C-12 is a very stable element and will not change form after being absorbed; however, C-14 is highly unstable and in fact will immediately begin changing after absorption.
Specifically, each nucleus will lose an electron, a process which is referred to as decay.