Carbon has two stable, nonradioactive isotopes: carbon-12 (12C) and carbon-13 (13C).
There are also trace amounts of the unstable radioisotope carbon-14 (14C) on Earth.
Carbon-14 has a relatively short half-life of 5,730 years, meaning that the fraction of carbon-14 in a sample is halved over the course of 5,730 years due to radioactive decay to nitrogen-14.
The carbon-14 isotope would vanish from Earth's atmosphere in less than a million years were it not for the constant influx of cosmic rays interacting with molecules of nitrogen (N) into organic compounds during photosynthesis, the resulting fraction of the isotope 14C in the plant tissue will match the fraction of the isotope in the atmosphere.
decay or the rate of other cumulative changes in atoms resulting from radioactivity. The various isotopes of the same element differ in terms of atomic mass but have the same atomic number..
One half-life is the amount of time required for of the original atoms in a sample to decay.
After plants die or are consumed by other organisms, the incorporation of all carbon isotopes, including 14C, stops.
Thereafter, the concentration (fraction) of 14C declines at a fixed exponential rate due to the radioactive decay of 14C. ) Comparing the remaining 14C fraction of a sample to that expected from atmospheric 14C allows us to estimate the age of the sample.
However, conditions may have been different in the past and could have influenced the rate of decay or formation of radioactive elements.
As a result, there is a changing ratio of carbon-14 to the more atomically stable carbon-12 involves actually counting individual carbon-14 atoms.
This allows the dating of much older and smaller samples but at a far higher cost.
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We thank you in advance for partnering with us in this small but significant way. All methods of radioactive dating rely on three assumptions that may not necessarily be true: It is assumed that the rate of decay has remained constant over time.