Which of the Three Forms of Carbon Has an Unstable Nucleus?

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Carbon naturally exists as three different isotopes. Find out which of the three forms of carbon has an unstable nucleus with help from an experienced science professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: The Marvels of Cells & DNA
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Hi, I'm Michael Maidaa and this is, "Which of the three forms of carbon has an unstable nucleus?" Carbon naturally exists as three different isotopes. Isotope is an element that has the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons. These three are called carbon-12, 13 and 14. Carbon-12 and 13 are the two stable forms. However, carbon 12 is much more common occurring at a ratio of 99 to 1 in favor of carbon-12. Now, looking at carbon-14, carbon-14 is much more rare. It's only found one in a trillion carbons. However, it is still very important because it's an unstable radioactive form of carbon. For this reason, it is not decade by plant matter, so we can use it for radiometric dating. Its half life is 5700 years. So, when looking at old biological material, we can look at how decade the carbon 14 is and find out how old that material actually is. So, to review, the two most common forms of carbon which are stable are carbon-12 and carbon-13. The much more rare and unstable form is carbon-14, which is found one in one trillion carbons. I'm Michael Maidaa and this has been, "Which of the forms of carbon have an unstable nucleus?"

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