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They have masses of 13 and 14 respectively and are referred to as "carbon-13" and "carbon-14." If two atoms have equal numbers of protons but differing numbers of neutrons, one is said to be an "isotope" of the other.Carbon-13 and carbon-14 are thus isotopes of carbon-12.And if the artifact is organic—like wood or bone—researchers can turn to a method called radiocarbon dating.In this interactive, learn how radiocarbon dating works, what it takes to determine a date in the lab, and why it's challenging to pinpoint a date precisely.When animals eat the plants, the carbon-14 enters their bodies.
Carbon-14 can yield dates of only “thousands of years” before it all breaks down.
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.
The rate at which C atoms, half of them will decay in 5730 years.
Since this rate is slow relative to the movement of carbon through food chains (from plants to animals to bacteria) all carbon in biomass at earth's surface contains atmospheric levels of C is present at atmospheric levels, the molecule must derive from a recent plant product.
By comparing the surviving amount of carbon-14 to the original amount, scientists can calculate how long ago the animal died.