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The number given after the atom name (carbon) indicates the number of protons plus neutrons in an atom or ion.Atoms of both isotopes of carbon contain 6 protons.BP stands for “Before Present” or “Before Physics” as some would refer to it.It should be noted that a BP notation is also used in other dating techniques but is defined differently, as in the case of thermoluminescence dating wherein BP is defined as AD 1980.The Oxalic acid standard was made from a crop of 1955 sugar beet. The isotopic ratio of HOx I is -19.3 per mille with respect to (wrt) the PBD standard belemnite (Mann, 1983). T designation SRM 4990 C) was made from a crop of 1977 French beet molasses.The Oxalic acid standard which was developed is no longer commercially available. In the early 1980's, a group of 12 laboratories measured the ratios of the two standards.Much of the information presented in this section is based upon the Stuiver and Polach (1977) paper "Discussion: Reporting of C14 data". 1890 wood was chosen as the radiocarbon standard because it was growing prior to the fossil fuel effects of the industrial revolution.

Potassium-40 is another radioactive element naturally found in your body and has a half-life of 1.3 billion years.It is also called “radiocarbon” because it is unstable and radioactive relative to carbon-12 and carbon-13.Carbon consists of 99% carbon-12, 1% carbon-13, and about one part per million carbon-14.The carbon-14 decays with its half-life of 5,700 years, while the amount of carbon-12 remains constant in the sample.By looking at the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the sample and comparing it to the ratio in a living organism, it is possible to determine the age of a formerly living thing fairly precisely. So, if you had a fossil that had 10 percent carbon-14 compared to a living sample, then that fossil would be: t = [ ln (0.10) / (-0.693) ] x 5,700 years t = [ (-2.303) / (-0.693) ] x 5,700 years t = [ 3.323 ] x 5,700 years Because the half-life of carbon-14 is 5,700 years, it is only reliable for dating objects up to about 60,000 years old.