Most carbon on Earth exists as the very stable isotope carbon-12, with a very small amount as carbon-13.
Here’s an example using the simplest atom, hydrogen.
For this purpose `present' refers to 1950 so you do not have to know the year in which the measurement was made.
To give an example if a sample is found to have a radiocarbon concentration exactly half of that for material which was modern in 1950 the radiocarbon measurement would be reported as 5568 BP.
Carbon-14 has a half-life of about 5730 years, and therefore it is used to date biological samples up to about 60,000 years in the past.
Radiocarbon dating is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic.
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Carbon dating has a certain margin of error, usually depending on the age and material of the sample used.
Crucially, carbon-14 is different from the other two isotopes because it is unstable, or radioactive, hence its name.
All living plants absorb radiocarbon through the atmospheric carbon dioxide used during photosynthesis.