Archaeologists use the exponential, radioactive decay of carbon 14 to estimate the death dates of organic material.
The stable form of carbon is carbon 12 and the radioactive isotope carbon 14 decays over time into nitrogen 14 and other particles.
Cosmic rays – high energy particles from beyond the solar system – bombard Earth’s upper atmosphere continually, in the process creating the unstable carbon-14.
Because it’s unstable, carbon-14 will eventually decay back to carbon-12 isotopes.
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