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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.

When these energetic neutrons collide with a nitrogen-14 (seven protons, seven neutrons) atom it turns into a carbon-14 atom (six protons, eight neutrons) and a hydrogen atom (one proton, zero neutrons).

Since Nitrogen gas makes up about 78 percent of the Earth's air, by volume, a considerable amount of Carbon-14 is produced.

Radiocarbon dating may only be used on organic materials.

Typically (6): The above list is not exhaustive; most organic material is suitable so long as it is of sufficient age and has not mineralised - dinosaur bones are out as they no longer have any carbon left.

Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 ± 40 years— during the succeeding 5,730 years.

Other resources report this half-life as the absolute amounts of 30$ years, or sometimes simply 00$ years.

A reaction occurs and a tiny number of these collisions convert nitrogen to carbon-14.

This carbon-14 immediately starts to radioactively decay but is constantly being recreated.

There are three carbon isotopes that occur as part of the Earth's natural processes; these are carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14.

The unstable nature of carbon 14 (with a precise half-life that makes it easy to measure) means it is ideal as an absolute dating method.

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