They have masses of 13 and 14 respectively and are referred to as "carbon-13" and "carbon-14." If two atoms have equal numbers of protons but differing numbers of neutrons, one is said to be an "isotope" of the other.Carbon-13 and carbon-14 are thus isotopes of carbon-12.The rate at which C atoms, half of them will decay in 5730 years.Since this rate is slow relative to the movement of carbon through food chains (from plants to animals to bacteria) all carbon in biomass at earth's surface contains atmospheric levels of C is present at atmospheric levels, the molecule must derive from a recent plant product.Signals of this kind are often used by chemists studying natural environments.A hydrocarbon found in beach sediments, for example, might derive from an oil spill or from waxes produced by plants.Ninety-nine percent of these also contain six neutrons.
Since the atmosphere is composed of about 78% nitrogen,2 a lot of radiocarbon atoms are produced—in total about 16.5 pounds (7.5 kg) per year.The pathway from the plant to the molecule may have been indirect or lengthy, involving multiple physical, chemical, and biological processes.Levels of C can represent either mixtures of modern and dead carbon or carbon that was fixed from the atmosphere less than 50,000 years ago. Carbon-14 dating can be used on objects ranging from a few hundred years old to 50,000 years old. Libby and others (University of Chicago) devised a method of estimating the age of organic material based on the decay rate of carbon-14.Thus it appears that God probably created those elements when He made the original earth.