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06-Jul-2018 07:30

Typically (6): The above list is not exhaustive; most organic material is suitable so long as it is of sufficient age and has not mineralised - dinosaur bones are out as they no longer have any carbon left.Stone and metal cannot be dated but pottery may be dated through surviving residue such as food particles or paint that uses organic material (8).The unstable nature of carbon 14 (with a precise half-life that makes it easy to measure) means it is ideal as an absolute dating method.The other two isotopes in comparison are more common than carbon-14 in the atmosphere but increase with the burning of fossil fuels making them less reliable for study (2); carbon-14 also increases, but its relative rarity means its increase is negligible. After this point, other Absolute Dating methods may be used.

This does not mean that we have a precise year of 3780BC, it means we then need to calibrate through other methods that will show us how atmospheric concentrations of the C isotope has changed - most typically through the dendrochronology records (tree ring data) (10).

By applying magnetic and electrical fields, the mass of these ions is measured and the accelerator is used to remove ions that might contaminate the dating.

The sample passes through several accelerators in order to remove as many atoms as possible until the C pass into the detector.

Willard Libby would receive a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1960.

The next big step in the radiocarbon dating method would be Accelerated Mass Spectrometry which was developed in the late 1980s and published its first results in 1994 (3).

This is why calibration against objects whose age is known is required (14).