How come an animal's carbon-14 levels do not start to decrease until it dies

How come an animal's carbon-14 levels do not decrease at all while the animal is alive. And once it dies its carbon-14 levels decrease. Is there a scientific explanation?

asked by Joe in Science | 5651 views | 07-30-2009 at 12:26 AM

Of course there's a scientific explanation.
Plants take up atmospheric carbon dioxide by photosynthesis, and are ingested by animals, so every living thing is constantly exchanging carbon-14 with its environment as long as it lives. Once it dies, however, this exchange stops, and the amount of carbon-14 gradually decreases through radioactive beta decay with a half-life of 5,73040 years.
Carbon-14 was discovered on February 27, 1940, by Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben at the University of California Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley.

answered by Tomy | 07-30-2009 at 12:29 AM

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