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Some of these carbon-14 atoms are absorbed by plants during photosynthesis.

When the plant dies, photosynthesis stops and the ratio between radioactive and stable carbon atoms begins to decrease.

Georges Cuvier, a famous anatomist, made the following remark in 1801: “the older the beds in which [fossils] are found, the more they differ from those of animals that we know today.

Potassium-argon dating is another kind of radioactive dating. Potassium-containing minerals are tested to find the amount of argon-40 and then to calculate the time that has passed since the mineral cooled to about 300 degrees.

The carbon 14 produced reacts with oxygen atoms in the atmosphere to form carbon dioxide.

This carbon dioxide is no different from those produced by carbon 12 and carbon 13; hence, carbon dioxide with carbon 14 has the same fate as those produced with the other carbon isotopes.

Burning of large quantities of fossil fuels like coal, referred as the Suess effect, had significantly lowered the radiocarbon concentration of the atmospheric carbon reservoir.

In contrast, nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s dramatically increased the level of carbon 14 in the atmosphere.

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The element is defined by the number of protons present in the nucleus.

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