By measuring the amount of carbon-14 remaining, scientists can pinpoint the exact date of the organism's death.
Absolute dates must agree with dates from other relative methods in order to be valid.
The most widely used and accepted form of absolute dating is radioactive decay dating. Radioactive decay refers to the process in which a radioactive form of an element is converted into a nonradioactive product at a regular rate.
When the organism dies, the supply stops, and the carbon-14 contained in the organism begins to spontaneously decay into nitrogen-14.
The time it takes for one-half of the carbon-14 to decay (a period called a half-life) is 5,730 years.
The nucleus of every radioactive element (such as radium and uranium) spontaneously disintegrates over time, transforming itself into the nucleus of an atom of a different element.