About 21 pounds of Nitrogen is converted each year making about 1/trillion atmospheric carbon atoms radioactive C.Then an age can be obtained for the organic material.Only two of the carbon isotopes are stable (C is obviously much more common (99%).
Since protons and neutrons weigh about the same, the atomic mass of ordinary carbon is 6 6 = 12.
It is called “Carbon-12,” which is abbreviated “C.” The fact that the atom has six protons is what makes it carbon.
To understand this process we must first understand a little bit about the atoms themselves and how they get their names.
Most carbon atoms have six positively charged protons and six uncharged neutrons.
Carbon-14 dating techniques were first developed by the American chemist, Willard F.
Libby at the University of Chicago in the 50’s, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960.
Thus the breakdown of radioactive atoms is a self-corrective process; those Isotopes which have too many neutrons loose a neutron in the beta decay, and those Isotopes which have too few neutrons gain a neutron in the positron decay.
Looking specifically at Carbon-14, we see that it is a Beta emitter with a half life of 5730 years.
So in this reaction, a neutron is captured by the nitrogen atom and a proton is released.