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Australia has two machines dedicated to radiocarbon analysis, and they are out of reach for much of the developing world.In addition, samples need to be thoroughly cleaned to remove carbon contamination from glues and soil before dating.

Professor Willard Libby produced the first radiocarbon dates in 1949 and was later awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts.

While the lighter isotopes C has decayed that what remains can no longer be measured. In 5,730 years half of the C in the atmosphere, and therefore in plants and animals, has not always been constant.

Radioactive decay can be used as a “clock” because it is unaffected by physical (e.g. For instance, the amount varies according to how many cosmic rays reach Earth.

The uncalibrated date is given with the unit BP (radiocarbon years before 1950).

The calibrated date is also presented, either in BC or AD or with the unit cal BP (calibrated before present - before 1950).

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This is an informational tour in which students gain a basic understanding of geologic time, the evidence for events in Earth’s history, relative and absolute dating techniques, and the significance of the Geologic Time Scale.