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Archaeologists use the exponential, radioactive decay of carbon 14 to estimate the death dates of organic material.The stable form of carbon is carbon 12 and the radioactive isotope carbon 14 decays over time into nitrogen 14 and other particles.

Liquid scintillation counting is another radiocarbon dating technique that was popular in the 1960s.So, the fossil is 8,680 years old, meaning the living organism died 8,680 years ago.An age could be estimated by measuring the amount of carbon-14 present in the sample and comparing this against an internationally used reference standard.Archaeology and other human sciences use radiocarbon dating to prove or disprove theories.Over the years, carbon 14 dating has also found applications in geology, hydrology, geophysics, atmospheric science, oceanography, paleoclimatology and even biomedicine.It must be noted though that radiocarbon dating results indicate when the organism was alive but not when a material from that organism was used.There are three principal techniques used to measure carbon 14 content of any given sample— gas proportional counting, liquid scintillation counting, and accelerator mass spectrometry.When finding the age of an organic organism we need to consider the half-life of carbon 14 as well as the rate of decay, which is –0.693.For example, say a fossil is found that has 35% carbon 14 compared to the living sample. We can use a formula for carbon 14 dating to find the answer.Radiocarbon dating is essentially a method designed to measure residual radioactivity.By knowing how much carbon 14 is left in a sample, the age of the organism when it died can be known.

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