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Radioactive carbon (Carbon 14) is formed in the upper atmosphere as a byproduct of cosmic radiation.Cosmic rays are positively charged atoms moving at enormous speeds.This limit is currently accepted by nearly all radiocarbon dating practitioners.It follows that the older a date is, even within this 'limit', the greater are the doubts about the date's accuracy. BASIS OF RADIOCARBON DATING Radiocarbon dating compares the amount of normal carbon with the amount of radioactive carbon in a sample. What effect would the declining strength of the earth's magnetic field and a catastrophic worldwide flood have on radiocarbon dates?The ions produced are forced into a magnetic field where the different mass of the carbon isotopes causes a different deflection, allowing the quantity of each isotope to be measured.
If we know what the original ratios of C14 to C12 were in the organism when it died, and if we know that the sample has not been contaminated by contact with other carbon since its death, we should be able to calculate when it died by its C14 to C12 ratio.When they strike ordinary atoms in the upper atmosphere, the cosmic rays smash them apart. Some of these neutrons then collide with nitrogen atoms.This collision is less destructive than the initial collision that produced them.However, because it has too many neutrons for the number of protons it contains, it is not a stable atom.Every 5,730 years, approximately half of this radioactive carbon spontaneously converts itself back into nitrogen by emitting an electron from a neutron.
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As you might guess, radioactive carbon (C) is quite rare.