Young earth creationists and carbon 14 dating of diamonds
Carbon is an especially important element because so many biological molecules are made from it in living things.In any sample of Carbon, a small percentage of the Carbon atoms are different in that they have one or two extra neutrons in the nucleus.Note that it is totally unpredictable when a specific atom will decay.However, in any sample that might be studied or dated, there are very large numbers of atoms.The most common form of radioactivity is called alpha decay, where the nucleus ejects a particle consisting of two protons and two neutrons (known as an alpha particle, which is essentially a Helium atom without its electrons).
In Carbon-14 decay, the unstable Carbon-14 atom (C-14) is referred to as the parent and the Nitrogen-14 atom is known as the daughter.The Institute for Creation Research has a project called RATE, whose intent was to overturn radiometric absolute dating methods as evidence for an old age of the earth.One of the arguments that they made was that diamonds contain significant levels of the radioactive carbon 14 (14C) isotope, indicating that they cannot be older than about 50,000 years old, and thus point to a young age of the earth.Radiometric Dating techniques are used to calculate the age of certain types of materials which have radioactive atoms within them.
Many items of historical significance have been dated using radioactive Carbon-14, thus many people have heard of Carbon-14 dates reported occasionally in the news.
In the process extensive precautions have to be taken to ensure that Carbon which is not from the sample does not contaminate the sample.