Short definition radiocarbon dating

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The collagen fraction usually yields more reliable dates than the apatite fraction (see Dates on bones).

However, to avoid confusion all radiocarbon laboratories continue to use the half-life calculated by Libby, sometimes rounding it to 5570 years.Libby calculated the half-life of c14 as 5568 ± 30 years.This means that half of the c14 has decayed by the time an organism has been dead for 5568 years, and half of the remainder has decayed by 11,136 years after death, etc.A more recent innovation is the direct counting of c14 atoms by accelerator mass spectrometers (AMS).The sample is converted to graphite and mounted in an ion source from which it is sputtered and accelerated through a magnetic field.

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