Find the approximate age of the fragment in the following case: A fragment found in a cave believed  to have been inhabited by early humans  contains 0.21 times as much C-14 as an equal amount of...

Find the approximate age of the fragment in the following case:

A fragment found in a cave believed  to have been inhabited by early humans  contains 0.21 times as much C-14 as an equal amount of carbon in the atmosphere when the organism containing the fragment died. The half life of C-14 is 5730 years.

Expert Answers info

justaguide eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write12,544 answers

starTop subjects are Math, Science, and Business

The half life of C-14 is 5730 years. In 5730 years, the amount of C-14 decreases to 1/2 the initial amount. In n*5730 years, the amount if C-14 left is given by (1/2)^n

Let the age of the fragment in the cave be n years. It is given that the fragment has 0.21 times as much C-14 as what the atmosphere had.

This gives us : 0.21 = (1/2)^n

Take the logarithm of both the sides

=> log 0.21 = log [(1/2) ^n]

=> log 0.21 = n * log (1/2)

=> n = log 0.21 / log 0.5

=> n = 2.2515

The age of the fragment is n* 5730 = 2.2515* 5730 = 12901 years.

The required age of the fragment is approximately 12901 years.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Unlock This Answer Now