Problem: A wooden boat discovered just south of the Great Pyramid in Egypt has a carbon-14/carbon-12 ratio that is 73.0% of that found in living organisms.How old is the boat?

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We’re being asked to determine the age of a boat that has a carbon-14/carbon 12 ratio that is 73.0% found in living organisms. 


Radiocarbon (carbon 14) is an isotope of the element carbon that is unstable and weakly radioactive. The stable isotopes are carbon 12 and carbon 13.

Plants and animals assimilate carbon 14 from carbon dioxide throughout their lifetimes. When they die, they stop exchanging carbon with the biosphere and their carbon 14 content then starts to decrease at a rate determined by the law of radioactive decay.

Radiocarbon dating is essentially a method designed to measure residual radioactivity.

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Problem Details

A wooden boat discovered just south of the Great Pyramid in Egypt has a carbon-14/carbon-12 ratio that is 73.0% of that found in living organisms.

How old is the boat?

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Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the First Order Half Life concept. You can view video lessons to learn First Order Half Life. Or if you need more First Order Half Life practice, you can also practice First Order Half Life practice problems.

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Based on our data, we think this problem is relevant for Professor Gary's class at HAWAII.