Origin of carbon dating
In living organisms, which are always taking in carbon, the levels of carbon 14 likewise stay constant.
But in a dead organism, no new carbon is coming in, and its carbon 14 gradually begins to decay.
Protons and neutrons make up the center (nucleus) of the atom, and electrons form shells around the nucleus.
The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom determines the element.
Living organisms are constantly incorporating this C-14 into their bodies along with other carbon isotopes.
When the organisms die, they stop incorporating new C-14, and the old C-14 starts to decay back into N-14 by emitting beta particles.
They have their work cut out for them, however, because radiocarbon (C-14) dating is one of the most reliable of all the radiometric dating methods.