Radiocarbon or carbon 14 is an isotope of the element carbon that is unstable and weakly radioactive the stable isotopes are carbon 12 and carbon 13 carbon 14 is continually being formed in the upper atmosphere by the effect of cosmic ray neutrons on nitrogen 14 atoms.
Carbon is distributed throughout the atmosphere the biosphere and the oceans these are referred to collectively as the carbon exchange reservoir and each component is also referred to individually as a carbon exchange reservoir.
Radiocarbon dating is also simply called carbon14 dating carbon14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon with a halflife of 5730 years which is very short compared with the above isotopes and decays into nitrogen.
Isotopes are different forms of the same element that have the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons some elements such as carbon potassium and uranium have naturally occurring isotopes carbon12 the most common isotope of carbon contains six protons and six neutrons.
Radiocarbon dating is one kind of radiometric dating used for determining the age of organic remains that are less than 50000 years old for inorganic matter and for older materials isotopes of other elements such as potassium uranium and strontium are.
Carbon14 a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of carbon having six protons and eight neutrons in the nucleus the isotope carbon14 is essential in the research of archaeological and biological remains by radiocarbon dating c14 does not last forever there is a time when it loses its extra neutrons and becomes c12.
There are three isotopes of carbon carbon12 carbon13 and carbon14 the numbers that are after the carbon refer to the atomic mass the most common and abundant isotope of carbon is carbon12.
What is carbon dating carbon is one of the chemical elements along with hydrogen nitrogen oxygen phosphorus and sulfur carbon is a building block of biochemical molecules ranging from fats proteins and carbohydrates to active substances such as hormones all carbon atoms have a nucleus containing six protons.