Today, there are over 130 radiocarbon dating laboratories around the world producing radiocarbon assays for the scientific community.
Oakley (1979) suggested its development meant an almost complete re-writing of the evolution and cultural emergence of the human species.
Desmond Clark (1979) wrote that were it not for radiocarbon dating, "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation" (Clark, 1979:7).
It follows from this that any material which is composed of carbon may be dated.
Herein lies the true advantage of the radiocarbon method, it is able to be uniformly applied throughout the world.
By comparing this with modern levels of activity (1890 wood corrected for decay to 1950 AD) and using the measured half-life it becomes possible to calculate a date for the death of the sample.
As 14C decays it emits a weak beta particle (b ), or electron, which possesses an average energy of 160ke V.Plants and animals which utilise carbon in biological foodchains take up 14C during their lifetimes.They exist in equilibrium with the C14 concentration of the atmosphere, that is, the numbers of C14 atoms and non-radioactive carbon atoms stays approximately the same over time.Learn about different types of radiometric dating, such as carbon dating.Understand how decay and half life work to enable radiometric dating.Thus, one carbon 14 atom exists in nature for every 1,000,000,000,000 C12 atoms in living material.