Plants and animals absorb both C-12 and C-14 in the course of their natural lifetimes simply by carrying out these basic functions.
When they die, they cease to consume them, and the isotope of C-14 begins to revert back to its Nitrogen state at an exponential rate due to its radioactive decay.
For these samples, other dating methods must be used.
The level of atmospheric C is not constant due to human activity, in part because of human combustion of fossil fuels and in part because of above-ground testing of the largely defensive weapon of the thermonuclear bomb.
Here on Earth, Carbon is found in the atmosphere, the soil, the oceans, and in every living creature. C-12, so-named because it has an atomic weight of 12 – is the most common isotope, but it is by no means the only one.
Carbon 14 is another, an isotope of carbon that is produced when Nitrogen (N-14) is bombarded by cosmic radiation.
What methods do they use and how do these methods work?
It is used in dating things such as bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers that were created in the relatively recent past by human activities.
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This property makes it especially useful in a process known as “radiocarbon dating”, or carbon dating for short.
Radiocarbon enters the biosphere through natural processes like eating and breathing.