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Radiocarbon dating can be used on samples of bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers.

The half-life of a radioactive isotope describes the amount of time that it takes half of the isotope in a sample to decay.

Radio carbon dating determines the age of ancient objects by means of measuring the amount of carbon-14 there is left in an object.

A man called Willard F Libby pioneered it at the University of Chicago in the 50's. This is now the most widely used method of age estimation in the field of archaeology.

Over the years, carbon 14 dating has also found applications in geology, hydrology, geophysics, atmospheric science, oceanography, paleoclimatology and even biomedicine.

It must be noted though that radiocarbon dating results indicate when the organism was alive but not when a material from that organism was used.

There are three principal techniques used to measure carbon 14 content of any given sample— gas proportional counting, liquid scintillation counting, and accelerator mass spectrometry.

Plants and animals assimilate carbon 14 from carbon dioxide throughout their lifetimes.

When they die, they stop exchanging carbon with the biosphere and their carbon 14 content then starts to decrease at a rate determined by the law of radioactive decay.

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Gas proportional counting is a conventional radiometric dating technique that counts the beta particles emitted by a given sample. In this method, the carbon sample is first converted to carbon dioxide gas before measurement in gas proportional counters takes place.

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