How is radiocarbon dating done

However, there is strong evidence which suggests that radioactive decay may have been greatly accelerated in the unobservable past.We must also assume that the ratio of C-12 to C-14 in the atmosphere has remained constant throughout the unobservable past (so we can know what the ratio was at the time of the specimen's death).Specimens which lived and died during a period of intense volcanism would appear older than they really are if they were dated using this technique.

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The quantity of sample that we require depends on the material being sampled. This equates to about one match stick sized piece for wood, or approximately half a postage stamp sized piece of textile.

Plants and animals naturally incorporate both the abundant C-12 isotope and the much rarer radiocarbon isotope into their tissues in about the same proportions as the two occur in the atmosphere during their lifetimes.

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