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When does carbon 14 dating become impractical

From diamonds to nanotubes to DNA, carbon is indispensable for constructing practically all of the most intricate structures we know of.

With a half-life of just over 5,000 years, any Carbon-14 atoms that were created in stars, billions of years ago, have long since decayed away into nitrogen atoms.

But once they interact with the atmosphere, They produce showers of subatomic particles of many different types, including — for our purposes — the all important neutron.

The reason neutrons are so important is because our atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, which you may remember as the thing that carbon-14 decays .

Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons.

This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.

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