Carbon-14 dating, also called radiocarbon dating, method of age determination that depends upon the decay to nitrogen of radiocarbon (carbon-14). Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon.

## Why is carbon-14 useful in carbon dating?

Carbon-14 is considered a radioactive isotope of carbon. Because its unstable, carbon-14 will eventually decay back to carbon-12 isotopes. And thats the key to radiocarbon dating. Scientists measure the ratio of carbon isotopes to be able to estimate how far back in time a biological sample was active or alive.

## Is carbon-14 positive or negative?

Because carbon-14 has six protons, it is still carbon, but the two extra neutrons make the nucleus unstable. In order to reach a more stable state, carbon-14 releases a negatively charged particle from its nucleus that turns one of the neutrons into a proton.