So, if we find the remains of a dead creature whose C-12 to C-14 ratio is half of what it's supposed to be (that is, one C-14 atom for every two trillion C-12 atoms instead of one in every trillion) we can assume the creature has been dead for about 5,730 years (since half of the radiocarbon is missing, it takes about 5,730 years for half of it to decay back into nitrogen).
If the ratio is a quarter of what it should be (one in every four trillion) we can assume the creature has been dead for 11,460 year (two half-lives).
After about 10 half-lives, the amount of radiocarbon left becomes too miniscule to measure and so this technique isn't useful for dating specimens which died more than 60,000 years ago.
Another limitation is that this technique can only be applied to organic material such as bone, flesh, or wood. Carbon Dating - The Premise Carbon dating is a dating technique predicated upon three things: Carbon Dating - The Controversy Carbon dating is controversial for a couple of reasons.
This is then transformed into isotopic ratios and then used to date the material.However, there is strong evidence which suggests that radioactive decay may have been greatly accelerated in the unobservable past.We must also assume that the ratio of C-12 to C-14 in the atmosphere has remained constant throughout the unobservable past (so we can know what the ratio was at the time of the specimen's death).Specimens which lived and died during a period of intense volcanism would appear older than they really are if they were dated using this technique.The ratio can further be affected by C-14 production rates in the atmosphere, which in turn is affected by the amount of cosmic rays penetrating the earth's atmosphere.