Bristlecone pine carbon dating
So in this reaction, a neutron is captured by the nitrogen atom and a proton is released.Thus in the nitrogen atom, a proton is effectively converted into a neutron, which allows a Carbon to be produced.Also you will see that the Mass and Atomic Numbers in the equation are equal on both sides of the equation.The atoms that we are particularly interested in are the ones that make up the earth’s atmosphere.These include nitrogen (78 percent), oxygen (21 percent), argon (0.9 percent), carbon dioxide (0.03 percent), varying amounts of water vapor, and trace amounts of hydrogen, ozone, methane, carbon monoxide, helium, neon, krypton, and xenon.Cosmic rays, which contain even higher levels of energy than ultraviolet light, cause some of the atoms in the upper atmosphere to fly apart into pieces.
All the other Carbon Isotopes are unstable and they degrade into something else.
To the left side of each C (C is the symbol for Carbon) are two numbers, the bottom number indicates the Atomic Number or the number of protons in the nucleus.
Since all the atoms are carbon, they should all have an Atomic Number of 6.
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.