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Radiocarbon 14 C carbon carbon atoms combine atoms in the atmosphere to dating carbon dioxide CO 2 that circulates into the biosphere.
Radiocarbon is thus incorporated into plants by photosynthesis and into the animals that eat the plants.
The reason is that, as long as the organism is alive, it replaces any carbon molecules that have decayed into nitrogen.
After plants and animals perish, however, they no longer replace dating damaged by radioactive decay.
Chemists have already determined how many atoms are in a given mass of each element, such as carbon.
If we know what fraction of the carbon atoms are radioactive, we can also calculate how many radiocarbon atoms are in questions lump.
The sand grains that originally filled the top bowl represent the carbon atoms in the living mammoth just before it died.The radiocarbon half-life or decay rate has been determined at 5, years.