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The rates of disintegration of potassium-40 and carbon-14 in the normal adult body are comparable (a few thousand disintegrated nuclei per second).

The latter can create significant variations in The New Zealand curve is representative for the Southern Hemisphere, the Austrian curve is representative for the Northern Hemisphere.

This resemblance is used in chemical and biological research, in a technique called carbon labeling: carbon-14 atoms can be used to replace nonradioactive carbon, in order to trace chemical and biochemical reactions involving carbon atoms from any given organic compound.

These are relatively low energies; the maximum distance traveled is estimated to be 22 cm in air and 0.27 mm in body tissue.

Atmospheric nuclear weapon tests almost doubled the concentration of The above-ground nuclear tests that occurred in several countries between 19 (see nuclear test list) dramatically increased the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere and subsequently in the biosphere; after the tests ended, the atmospheric concentration of the isotope began to decrease.

One side-effect of the change in atmospheric carbon-14 is that this has enabled some options (e.g., bomb-pulse dating Carbon-14 is produced in coolant at boiling water reactors (BWRs) and pressurized water reactors (PWRs).

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