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Various natural and man-invoked activities ensure that the carbon atoms are always on the move. It follows a particular pattern, a periodic cycle that is known as the carbon cycle.

In the sections given below, we will see a simple diagram and explanation.

A major portion of the structure of any life form is composed of carbon and its compounds.

The older a sample is, the less (the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed) is about 5,730 years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50,000 years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples.

Carbon is probably the most vital element on planet Earth. This Buzzle article presents its diagram and a comprehensive explanation that will give a better understanding of this process.

Scientists call this rate or speed of decay a "half-life." One half-life equals the length of time for half of the isotope to decay. So if we start with 1 pound of C-14, after 5,730 years we should have % pound of C-14. It decayed back to the stable, non­radioactive nitrogen-14.

After another 5,730 years, we have 1/4 pound of C-14, etc.

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The resulting radiocarbon combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis; animals then acquire in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.

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