Radiocarbon (carbon-14 or C) forms continually today in the earth’s upper atmosphere.And as far as we know, it has been forming in the earth’s upper atmosphere at least since the Fall, after the atmosphere was made back on Day Two of creation week (part of the expanse, or firmament, described in Genesis 1:6–8). Cosmic rays from outer space are continually bombarding the upper atmosphere of the earth, producing fast-moving neutrons (sub-atomic particles carrying no electric charge) (figure 1).1 These fast-moving neutrons collide with nitrogen-14 atoms, the most abundant element in the upper atmosphere, converting them into radiocarbon (carbon-14) atoms.The most well-known of all the radiometric dating methods is radiocarbon dating.Although many people think radiocarbon is used to date rocks, it is limited to dating things that contain carbon and were once alive (fossils).So even we humans are radioactive because of trace amounts of radiocarbon in our bodies.After radiocarbon forms, the nuclei of the carbon-14 atoms are unstable, so over time they progressively decay back to nuclei of stable nitrogen-14.3 A neutron breaks down to a proton and an electron, and the electron is ejected. The ejected electrons are called beta particles and make up what is called beta radiation. Different carbon-14 atoms revert to nitrogen-14 at different times, which explains why radioactive decay is considered a random process.
Radioactive and non-radioactive carbon dioxide mix throughout the atmosphere, and dissolve in the oceans.
Radiocarbon dating was invented in the 1950s by the American chemist Willard F.
Libby and a few of his students at the University of Chicago: in 1960, he won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention.
It was the first absolute scientific method ever invented: that is to say, the technique was the first to allow a researcher to determine how long ago an organic object died, whether it is in context or not.
Shy of a date stamp on an object, it is still the best and most accurate of dating techniques devised.
Research Scientist at the NSF Arizona AMS Facility and Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, Ariz. Its primary use is for radiocarbon dating of small samples of carbon, although many measurements have also been made on the longer-lived radionuclides such as I, which have applications to geology and marine studies.