A reaction occurs and a tiny number of these collisions convert nitrogen to carbon-14.
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This carbon dioxide rapidly mixes throughout the atmosphere, where at ground level it is taken in by plants during photosynthesis.
This process is constantly ongoing, so that at any point in time the amount of carbon-14 in living plants is the same as the amount of carbon-14 in the air around them.
Living plants are active components of the overall food chain.
This discussion is a simplified introduction to radiocarbon dating.
There are exceptions to the theories and relationships introduced below that are beyond the scope of this discussion.
Carbon is the basis of life and is present in all living things.Radiocarbon, or carbon-14 (also written as C), is an isotope of carbon that is unstable and weakly radioactive.Carbon-14 is present in all living things in minute amounts.Since it is radioactive, it gradually fades away by radioactive decay until it is all gone.Radiocarbon dating uses carbon-14 to determine the last time something (or someone) was alive.Carbon-14 originates in the upper atmosphere of the earth and is created when neutrons originating from solar radiation bombardment collide with nitrogen in the air.