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. C is by far the most common isotope, while only about one in a trillion carbon atoms is C C is produced in the upper atmosphere when nitrogen N is altered through the effects of cosmic radiation bombardment a proton is displaced by a neutron effectively changing the nitrogen atom into a carbon isotope. The new isotope is called "radiocarbon" because it is radioactive, though it is not dangerous. It is naturally unstable and so it will spontaneously decay back into N after a period of time. It takes about 5, years for half of a sample of radiocarbon to decay back into nitrogen.
Instant Egghead - How Does Radiocarbon Dating Work?
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Joseph Halden. Posted on May 12, by Joseph. It starts with a look, a passing glance between strangers: one blazing through the cosmos at the speed of light, the other drifting slowly with its head in the clouds.