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AMS counts the quantity of C isotope is constantly formed in the upper atmosphere thanks to the effects of cosmic rays on nitrogen-14 atoms.It is oxidised quickly and absorbed in great quantities by all living organisms - animal and plant, land and ocean dwelling alike.This new method was based on gas and liquid scintillation counting and these methods are still used today, having been demonstrated as more accurate than Libby's original method (3).Willard Libby would receive a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1960.

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.

When the half-life was corrected in 1950, the year was taken as a base date from which to calculate all resulting dates.

Therefore, any expression of “before present” will mean “before 1950”.

There are three carbon isotopes that occur as part of the Earth's natural processes; these are carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14.

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.

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This allows researchers to account for variation by comparing the known records of C levels in the tree record, looking for a tree record that has the same proportion of radiocarbon.

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