We will deal with carbon dating first and then with the other dating methods.
Carbon has unique properties that are essential for life on Earth.
This is how carbon dating works: Carbon is a naturally abundant element found in the atmosphere, in the earth, in the oceans, and in every living creature.
One rare form has atoms that are 14 times as heavy as hydrogen atoms: carbon-14, or C ratio gets smaller.
Materials suitable for radiocarbon dating include charcoal, wood and other plant matter, soils and sediments, shells, bone, carbonates, dissolved inorganic carbonate (DIC), methane and hydrocarbons, and food products.
A table of optimum and minimum sample sizes is provided below.
It takes another 5,730 for half of the remainder to decay, and then another 5,730 for half of what's left then to decay and so on.
The period of time that it takes for half of a sample to decay is called a "half-life." Radiocarbon oxidizes (that is, it combines with oxygen) and enters the biosphere through natural processes like breathing and eating.
Radiocarbon dating is the principal method for determining the age of carbon-bearing materials from the present to about 50,000 years ago.