About radiocarbon dating
It’s assumed to be the same number of carbon-14 atoms as in elephants living today.
With time, those sand grains fell to the bottom bowl, so the new number represents the carbon-14 atoms left in the mammoth skull when we found it.
Through photosynthesis carbon dioxide enters plants and algae, bringing radiocarbon into the food chain.
Radiocarbon then enters animals as they consume the plants (figure 2).
Radiocarbon (carbon-14 or C) forms continually today in the earth’s upper atmosphere.
And as far as we know, it has been forming in the earth’s upper atmosphere at least since the Fall, after the atmosphere was made back on Day Two of creation week (part of the expanse, or firmament, described in Genesis 1:6–8). Cosmic rays from outer space are continually bombarding the upper atmosphere of the earth, producing fast-moving neutrons (sub-atomic particles carrying no electric charge) (figure 1).1 These fast-moving neutrons collide with nitrogen-14 atoms, the most abundant element in the upper atmosphere, converting them into radiocarbon (carbon-14) atoms.
After radiocarbon forms, the nuclei of the carbon-14 atoms are unstable, so over time they progressively decay back to nuclei of stable nitrogen-14.3 A neutron breaks down to a proton and an electron, and the electron is ejected. The ejected electrons are called beta particles and make up what is called beta radiation. Different carbon-14 atoms revert to nitrogen-14 at different times, which explains why radioactive decay is considered a random process.
(This 5,730 year period is called the half-life of radiocarbon, figure 5).6 At this decay rate, hardly any carbon-14 atoms will remain after only 57,300 years (or ten half-lives). The decay of radiocarbon follows the exponential decay law, whereby the percentage decrease in the number of parent atoms per unit time is constant.