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The older the pottery, the brighter the light that will be emitted.

Eventually, the entire ecosystem (community of plants and animals) of the planet, including humans, is filled with a concentration of carbon-14.

As long as an organism is alive, the supply of carbon-14 is replenished.

Since certain species of animals existed on Earth at specific times in history, the fossils or remains of such animals embedded within those successive layers of rock also help scientists determine the age of the layers.

Similarly, pollen grains released by seed-bearing plants became fossilized in rock layers.

These include the uranium-thorium method, the potassium-argon method, and the rubidium-strontium method. Thermoluminescence (pronounced ther-moeloo-mi-NES-ence) dating is very useful for determining the age of pottery.

When a piece of pottery is heated in a laboratory at temperatures more than 930°F (500°C), electrons from quartz and other minerals in the pottery clay emit light.

When carbon-14 falls to Earth, it is absorbed by plants.

These plants are eaten by animals who, in turn, are eaten by even larger animals.

The age of the remains of plants, animals, and other organic material can be determined by measuring the amount of carbon-14 contained in that material.

Carbon-14, a radioactive form of the element carbon, is created in the atmosphere by cosmic rays (invisible, high-energy particles that constantly bombard Earth from all directions in space).

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.

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