JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JAMES KING-HOLMES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Radiocarbon dating. A scientist cleaning a sample of a mammoth's tooth for dating using radiocarbon techniques. This uses the ratio between the radioactive isotope carbon-14 (14C) and the stable carbon-12 (12C) isotope in a sample. The ratio of 14C to 12C in the sample may be related to the time since the death of the animal or plant being investigated. Convention states that 14C has a half-life of 5568 years (+/- 30 years), although this is now thought to be too short. Dates from the process are given either as radiocarbon dates, or as solar dates after various corrections have been made.
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