The half-life of 14C is 5700 ± 30 years, which makes it particularly useful for dating in archaeology and many other fields. However, only an exceptional hindrance of the beta decay from 14C to 14N – a so-called Gamow-Teller ß-decay – makes this half-life so long. A “normal” strength of this kind of decay – as observed in neighboring nuclei and expressed by the so-called Log ft value - would result in a half-life of only a few days, completely useless for archaeological dating . To explain this hindrance from first principles has been a challenge for nuclear theory since many years. Recently, nuclear model calculation with great computational efforts have been performed in the literature to reproduce the very low transition probability . It seems that the nuclear structure of the two nuclei is so different that the beta decay requires a rearrangement of all nucleons, leading to a strongly destructive interference phenomenon. The current understanding of this situation will be discussed.
While the long half-life is useful for dating during the last 50,000 years, 14C as a byproduct of the above-ground nuclear weapons testing from 1950 to 1963 provided a quasi-stable isotope label of atmospheric CO2. The rapid distribution of this excess 14C through the CO2 cycle after the nuclear test ban treaty of 1963 produced the so-called 14C bomb peak allowing a variety of unique investigations. Some examples will be presented.
 W. Kutschera, The half-life of 14C – why is it so long?, Radiocarbon (2019), in print
 P. Maris et al., Origin of the anomalous long lifetime of 14C, Phys. Rev. Lett. 106 (2011) 202502.