An “isotope” is any of several different forms of an element, each having different numbers of neutrons.The illustration below shows the three isotopes of carbon.The number of neutrons in the nucleus can vary in any given type of atom.So, a carbon atom might have six neutrons, or seven, or possibly eight—but it would always have six protons.As long as the tree lives, it absorbs carbon from the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, both C-12 and C-14.Once the tree dies, it ceases to take in new carbon, and any C-14 present begins to decay.The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom determines the element.For example, all carbon atoms have 6 protons, all atoms of nitrogen have 7 protons, and all oxygen atoms have 8 protons.
Genesis 1 defines the days of creation to be literal days (a number with the word “day” always means a normal day in the Old Testament, and the phrase “evening and morning” further defines the days as literal days).
Some isotopes of certain elements are unstable; they can spontaneously change into another kind of atom in a process called “radioactive decay.” Since this process presently happens at a known measured rate, scientists attempt to use it like a “clock” to tell how long ago a rock or fossil formed.
There are two main applications for radiometric dating.
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