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Thus the breakdown of radioactive atoms is a self-corrective process; those Isotopes which have too many neutrons loose a neutron in the beta decay, and those Isotopes which have too few neutrons gain a neutron in the positron decay.

Looking specifically at Carbon-14, we see that it is a Beta emitter with a half life of 5730 years.

report, a team led by dendrochronologist Sturt Manning of Cornell University has found that the traditional carbon-14 calibration curve for the Northern Hemisphere produces inaccurate dates for organic materials in southern Jordan, Israel, and Egypt.

Standard radiocarbon chronologies are based on the assumption that radiocarbon levels are similar and stable everywhere across the Northern or Southern Hemisphere at any given time.

Other atoms are also named based on the number of protons they carry.

Notice in the diagram that eight different isotopes of Carbon are illustrated.

So in this reaction, a neutron is captured by the nitrogen atom and a proton is released.

Thus in the nitrogen atom, a proton is effectively converted into a neutron, which allows a Carbon to be produced.

Cosmic rays, which contain even higher levels of energy than ultraviolet light, cause some of the atoms in the upper atmosphere to fly apart into pieces.The top number is the Mass Number for each isotope.The Mass Number for any isotope is the addition of all the protons and neutrons in the nucleus.When Carbon-14 emits a beta particle, the Carbon-14 atom becomes a Nitrogen-14 Atom.Looking at the Mass Number and Atomic Number of the atoms we see that the atom has lost a neutron and gained a proton.

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