The basis of radiocarbon dating is simple: all living things absorb carbon from the atmosphere and food sources around them, including a certain amount of natural, radioactive carbon-14. When the plant or animal dies, they stop absorbing, but the radioactive carbon that theyve accumulated continues to decay.
Is Carbon 12 used in carbon dating?
Radiocarbon dating uses carbon isotopes. Radiocarbon dating relies on the carbon isotopes carbon-14 and carbon-12. Scientists are looking for the ratio of those two isotopes in a sample. Most carbon on Earth exists as the very stable isotope carbon-12, with a very small amount as carbon-13.
What is the difference between C-12 and C 14?
The difference between carbon-12 and carbon-14 is the number of neutrons in each of their atoms. Atoms of carbon-12 have 6 neutrons, while atoms of carbon-14 contain 8 neutrons. A neutral atom would have the same number of protons and electrons, so a neutral atom of carbon-12 or carbon-14 would have 6 electrons.