The ensuing atomic interactions create a steady supply of c14 that rapidly diffuses throughout the atmosphere.
It takes about 5,730 years for half of a sample of radiocarbon to decay back into nitrogen.
Scientists use a technique called radiometric dating to estimate the ages of rocks, fossils, and the earth.
Many people have been led to believe that radiometric dating methods have proved the earth to be billions of years old.
Since carbon is fundamental to life, occurring along with hydrogen in all organic compounds, the detection of such an isotope might form the basis for a method to establish the age of ancient materials.
Libby, a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago, predicted that a radioactive isotope of carbon, known as carbon-14, would be found to occur in nature.
It takes another 5,730 for half of the remainder to decay, and then another 5,730 for half of what's left then to decay and so on.