Radiocarbon, or carbon 14, is an isotope of the element carbon that is unstable and weakly radioactive. Carbon 14 is continually being formed in the upper atmosphere by the effect of cosmic ray neutrons on nitrogen 14 atoms.It is rapidly oxidized in air to form carbon dioxide and enters the global carbon cycle.These include: Selected Publications Joan Brenner Coltrain, Joel C. Non-essential amino acids occupy two of three positions in bone collagen's cross-linked amino acids chains. 30 years to replace existing carbon with an equivalent amount of carbon (Stenhouse and Baxter 1977, 193; see also Harkness and Walton 1972; Libby et al. Fractionation between plant tissues and bone collagen is 5 ‰ and approximates 1‰ at higher trophic levels.A child mummy is found high in the Andes and the archaeologist says the child lived more than 2,000 years ago.How do scientists know how old an object or human remains are?
If an isotope is stable, then unless some outside force acts upon it, this isotope will sit around and do its thing, stably, forever. They will emit energy in the form of ionizing radiation until this instability is sufficiently resolved.
Perhaps we should take this opportunity to review some of the basic science behind the study of C plants as they relate to human evolution. With its four valence electrons, Carbon (C) is quite suited to act as the backbone in the molecules that are the foundation of life as we know it (proteins, the nucleic acids of DNA, lipids, etc.).
Carbon exists naturally in three forms (or isotopes).
The end result may be a more stable isotope of the same element or even another element altogether.
This is the process behind what we call radioactive decay.