The total mass of the isotope is indicated by the numerical superscript.While the lighter isotopes C has decayed that what remains can no longer be measured. In 5,730 years half of the C in the atmosphere, and therefore in plants and animals, has not always been constant.Professor Willard Libby produced the first radiocarbon dates in 1949 and was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts.

The half-life of a radioactive isotope (usually denoted by $$t_$$) is a more familiar concept than $$k$$ for radioactivity, so although Equation $$\ref$$ is expressed in terms of $$k$$, it is more usual to quote the value of $$t_$$.The radioactive isotope carbon-14 is created in the upper atmosphere when cosmic-ray particles from outer space strike nitrogen atoms and transform them into radioactive carbon.Some of the carbon-14 might find its way into living creatures.The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members.View the full list Radiocarbon dating has transformed our understanding of the past 50,000 years.

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From this science, we are able to approximate the date at which the organism were living on Earth.

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