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Living organisms are constantly incorporating this C-14 into their bodies along with other carbon isotopes.When the organisms die, they stop incorporating new C-14, and the old C-14 starts to decay back into N-14 by emitting beta particles.Although carbon 14 atoms are constantly decaying, they are replaced by new carbon 14 atoms at a constant rate.As soon as an organism dies, the carbon 14 atoms stop being replaced.The older an organism's remains are, the less beta radiation it emits because its C-14 is steadily dwindling at a predictable rate.So, if we measure the rate of beta decay in an organic sample, we can calculate how old the sample is. Question: Kieth and Anderson radiocarbon-dated the shell of a living freshwater mussel and obtained an age of over two thousand years.

Around the world, only about 100 facilities house this equipment.

“Accelerator mass spectroscopy can be used to carbon date bones, wood, fabrics or anything of biological origin, pinpointing its age of up to 50,000 years ago,” said Iacopo Galli, a member of the research team.

“Using our new technique, we can do something similar but with a lower cost and with a faster delivery time for the results.” The researchers report that their SCAR instrument can detect radiocarbon dioxide concentration with a precision of 0.4 percent, which approaches the 0.2 percent precision of the best accelerator mass spectrometers.

The burning of fossil fuels is altering the ratio of carbon in the atmosphere, which may cause objects tested in the coming decades to seem hundreds or thousands of years older than they actually are, according a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A cotton T-shirt manufactured and tested in 2050 may appear to be the same age as an artifact from the 11th century when dated using the radiocarbon method.

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