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The beta rays given off when C-14 changes to C-12 can be counted with a counting machine such as the Geiger counter.If many counts per minute (beta rays), are measured, high radioactivity and, therefore, much C-14 is present.By tipping the glass when the egg starts cooking, one learns when three minutes are up and the boiling should be stopped.One assumes that there is enough sand in the timer so that it takes three minutes for it to move from the top of the glass to the bottom of the glass.But that's not really how it is when scientists are working in their labs.To understand how the C-14 clock works and what processes are involved, let us consider the egg-timer.Some of the scientists who date by C-14 claim these are only small fluctuations and would have no overall effect.But if there can be small fluctuations in the amount of the C-14 produced in the atmosphere day by day, then there could have been greater fluctuations in Earth's history. What might such changes in the atmosphere mean for dating studies?

Carbon is present in proteins, fats and carbohydrates – the three basic foods.

When cosmic rays enter the atmosphere, they cause "scatter radiation," which consists of little particles called neutrons.

A moving neutron is a high-energy particle which performs an interesting task.

Since carbon comes from the air, does the amount of carbon-14 in the air remain constant?

Much of the carbon in the air is C-12, but a small amount of it is C-14.

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