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Natural sources include cosmic radiation, radiation from lighter, unstable nuclei produced by the bombardment of the atmosphere by cosmic radiation, and radiation from heavy, unstable nuclei produced by the decay of long-lived nuclides in the earth's crust.

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Some of the carbon-14 might find its way into living creatures.RECENT UNPRECEDENTED BIOLOGICAL CHANGES IN ALPINE LAKES RELATED TO ENHANCED DEPOSITION OF ANTHROPOGENIC NITROGEN. TRACE METAL, RADIONUCLIDE AND SEDIMENT ACCUMULATION IN LITTORAL ZONES. An example of the ingenious technical work and hard-fought debates underlying the main story is the use of radioactive carbon-14 to assign dates to the distant past.For other examples, see the essays on Temperatures from Fossil Shells and Arakawa's Computation Device.