The historical perspective on the development of radiocarbon dating is well outlined in Taylor's book "Radiocarbon Dating: Many labs now use an Accelerator Mass Spectrometer AMS , a machine that can detect and measure the presence of different isotopes, to count the individual 14C atoms in a sample. There has been much debate about the age of The Shroud of Turin.
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How Carbon Dating Works
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It is the study of how people in the past exploited and changed the environment around them. The other two isotopes in comparison are more common than carbon in the atmosphere but increase with the burning of fossil fuels making them less reliable for study 2 ; carbon also increases, but its relative rarity means its increase is negligible. The tests suggested that the half-life they had measured was accurate, and, quite reasonably, suggested further that atmospheric radiocarbon concentration had remained constant throughout the recent past. Over the years, carbon 14 dating has also found applications in geology, hydrology, geophysics, atmospheric science, oceanography, paleoclimatology and even biomedicine. One good example is a critical piece of research into the diet of the fragile Viking colonies of Greenland 13 for example; the study examined not just the 14C dates of the people in the graves, but was also in examining their diet through examining the carbon isotopes themselves. The study concluded dates that were already suspected but not confirmed:
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In addition to long term fluctuations, smaller 'wiggles' were identified by the Dutch scholar Hessel de Vries Physical and chemical pretreatments are done on these materials to remove possible contaminants before they are analyzed for their radiocarbon content.