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It is called 'radio'-carbon, because it is 'radioactive'.This means that its atomic structure is not stable and there is an uneasy relationship between the particles in the nucleus of the atom itself.The half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for half the radiocarbon in a sample of bone or shell or any carbon sample to disappear.Libby found that it took 5568 years for half the radiocarbon to decay.During the period of a plant's life, the plant is taking in carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, which is how the plant makes energy and grows.

Therefore, radiocarbon dating is not able to date anything older than 60 or 70 000 years old.The job of a radiocarbon laboratory is to measure the remaining amounts of radiocarbon in a carbon sample.This is very difficult and requires a lot of careful work to produce reliable dates.Welcome to the K12 section of the Radiocarbon WEBinfo site.The aim here is to provide clear, understandable information relating to radiocarbon dating for the benefit of K12 students, as well as lay people who are not requiring detailed information about the method of radiocarbon dating itself.

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