Balanced nuclear equation for carbon dating

Nuclear reactions can be described mathematically in much the same way as chemical reactions.

We commonly express these reactions by equations, although there is a unique difference in the nature of the reactions.

chemical reactions involve an atom’s electrons while nuclear reactions involve the atom’s nucleus.

writing a nuclear reaction equation in order to write an equation for a nuclear reaction, we must first establish some basic rules.

The 'A' number describes the atomic weight of the atom and identifies the number of Now that we know what these symbols represent, let's see how they can be applied to a nuclear equation.

There are also trace amounts of the unstable radioisotope carbon-14 (14C) on Earth.

Using nuclear symbols, we would write it like this: This isotope is very unstable (or unhappy) because it is too heavy.

It wants to slim down a bit, so it is going to undergo alpha decay, losing an alpha particle.

Carbon-14 has a relatively short half-life of 5,730 years, meaning that the fraction of carbon-14 in a sample is halved over the course of 5,730 years due to radioactive decay to nitrogen-14.

The carbon-14 isotope would vanish from Earth's atmosphere in less than a million years were it not for the constant influx of cosmic rays interacting with molecules of nitrogen (N) into organic compounds during photosynthesis, the resulting fraction of the isotope 14C in the plant tissue will match the fraction of the isotope in the atmosphere.


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