Philip P. answered 07/14/14
Effective and Patient Math Tutor
There is a process called beta minus (β-) decay in which a neutron within an unstable nucleus converts into a proton, emitting an electron and anti-neutrino in the process to conserve energy and charge. Carbon 14 decays into Nitrogen 14 via beta minus decay. The mass number stays the same but the atomic number increases, converting the carbon into a different element (Nitrogen). Beta decay occurs when the nucleus seeks to optimize the balance of protons with neutrons and lower the nucleus' energy state.