When living things die, they stop taking in carbon-14, and the radioactive clock is "set"!Any dead material incorporated with sedimentary deposits is a possible candidate for carbon-14 dating.
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Radioactive elements were incorporated into the Earth when the Solar System formed.
All rocks and minerals contain tiny amounts of these radioactive elements.
Radioactive atoms are inherently unstable; over time, radioactive "parent atoms" decay into stable "daughter atoms." When molten rock cools, forming what are called igneous rocks, radioactive atoms are trapped inside. By measuring the quantity of unstable atoms left in a rock and comparing it to the quantity of stable daughter atoms in the rock, scientists can estimate the amount of time that has passed since that rock formed.
Fossils are generally found in sedimentary rock not igneous rock.
To achieve stability, these atoms must make adjustments, particularly in their nuclei.