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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.

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However, to avoid confusion all radiocarbon laboratories continue to use the half-life calculated by Libby, sometimes rounding it to 5570 years.

Any organic material that is available in sufficient quantity can be prepared for radiocarbon dating.

Since there are practical limits to the age range of the method, most samples must be younger than 50,000 years and older than 100 years.

Most samples require chemical pre-treatment to ensure their purity or to recover particular components of the material.

The measurement of the rate of radioactive decay is known as its half-life, the time it takes for half of a sample to decay.

Libby calculated the half-life of c14 as 5568 ± 30 years.

Carbon-14 is produced in the upper atmosphere when cosmic rays bombard nitrogen atoms.

The ensuing atomic interactions create a steady supply of c14 that rapidly diffuses throughout the atmosphere.

The objective of pre-treatment is to ensure that the carbon being analyzed is native to the sample submitted for dating.

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