Dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating
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.
Most nitrogen atoms have seven protons and seven neutrons, so their atomic mass is 7 7 = 14.
The fact that it has seven protons is what makes it nitrogen.
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.
Remember that the Atomic Number (the bottom number) indicates the number of protons.
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.
Notice that the farther away the Mass Number gets from 12-13, the faster they break down (The blue numbers indicate half-lives, the time it takes for one half of the atoms in a sample to break down.).
So the farther the carbon is from the norm, the more unstable it is. They have too many neutrons so they breakdown, releasing a beta particle which effectively converts a neutron into a proton.
Carbon-14 dating techniques were first developed by the American chemist, Willard F.