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This, in fact, is the most significant factor contributing to loss of precision in radiocarbon dates today.
However, this contribution is usually only a few decades.
Once the radiocarbon concentration in a sample has been measured, the sample's age in "radiocarbon years" is determined mathematically.
Atoms of radioactive isotopes are unstable and decay over time by shooting off particles at a fixed rate, transmuting the material into a more stable substance.
For example, modern biblical chronology dates Noah's Flood to 3520 /- 21 B.
Recent puzzling observations of tiny variations in nuclear decay rates have led some to question the science behind carbon-14 dating and similar techniques.
The decay of uranium-238, which has a half-life of nearly 4.5 billion years, enabled geologists to determine the age of the Earth.
Many scientists, including Marie and Pierre Curie, Ernest Rutherford and George de Hevesy, have attempted to influence the rate of radioactive decay by radically changing the pressure, temperature, magnetic field, acceleration, or radiation environment of the source.Data from laboratories in New York and Germany also have shown similarly tiny deviations over the course of a year.