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During natural radioactive decay, not all atoms of an element are instantaneously changed to atoms of another element.The decay process takes time and there is value in being able to express the rate at which a process occurs.
In addition, the final elemental product is listed after the decal process.
Figure \(\Page Index\): Along with stable carbon-12, radioactive carbon-14 is taken in by plants and animals, and remains at a constant level within them while they are alive.
After death, the C-14 decays and the C-14: C-12 ratio in the remains decreases. For example, a sample can be C-14 dating if it is approximately 100 to 50,000 years old.
As time goes by, the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in the organism gradually declines, because carbon-14 radioactively decays while carbon-12 is stable.
Analysis of this ratio allows archaeologists to estimate the age of organisms that were alive many thousands of years ago.