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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.This is affected by solar activity and the earth’s magnetic field.This dramatically improves accuracy, and reduces the amount of carbon required from about 10 grams to only a few milligrams.In recent years, dating methods based on cosmogenic isotopes other than carbon (such as beryllium-10 and chlorine-36) have been developed, which allow for the dating of a wider variety of objects over much longer time scales.This turns out not to be exactly true, and so there is an inherent error between a raw "radiocarbon date" and the true calendar date.To correct for this, scientists have compared radiocarbon dates from objects who's age is known by other means, such as artifacts from Egyptian tombs, and growth rings from ancient trees.First, the older the object, the less carbon-14 there is to measure.
Radiocarbon dating works by comparing the three different isotopes of carbon.Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons.This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.There are eight AMS laboratories currently operating in the Unites States.In Arizona, virtually all dating is performed by the Arizona Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Laboratory at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
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