C-12 is by far the most common isotope, while only about one in a trillion carbon atoms is C-14.
C-14 is produced in the upper atmosphere when nitrogen-14 (N-14) 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).
For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles below.
by Dr Carl Wieland An attempt to explain this very important method of dating and the way in which, when fully understood, it supports a ‘short’ timescale.
The radiocarbon dating method is based on the fact that radiocarbon is constantly being created in the atmosphere by the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen.
In fact, the whole method is a giant ‘clock’ which seems to put a very young upper limit on the age of the atmosphere.
The article is in straightforward language and the non-technical reader could profitably work through it.
A 10 gram sample of U-238Now that has changed, and some important discoveries are being made.
When granite rock hardens, it freezes radioactive elements in place.