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AMS counts the quantity of C isotope is constantly formed in the upper atmosphere thanks to the effects of cosmic rays on nitrogen-14 atoms.It is oxidised quickly and absorbed in great quantities by all living organisms - animal and plant, land and ocean dwelling alike.The other two isotopes in comparison are more common than carbon-14 in the atmosphere but increase with the burning of fossil fuels making them less reliable for study (2); carbon-14 also increases, but its relative rarity means its increase is negligible. After this point, other Absolute Dating methods may be used.
The other method is “Relative Dating” which gives an order of events without giving an exact age (1): typically artefact typology or the study of the sequence of the evolution of fossils.When an organism dies, it stops absorbing the radioactive isotope and immediately starts decaying (7).As previously mentioned, the half life of the C isotope is 5,730 years - this means that it takes 5,730 years to reach half the radioactivity that the organism had at the point of death, another 5,730 years to reach 25% radioactivity it had at the point of death and so on.Radiocarbon dating is simply a measure of the level of C isotopes in the atmosphere can vary.This is why calibration against objects whose age is known is required (14).
It is presumed that the proportion of atmospheric C is the same today as it was in 1950 (10), (11) and that the half-life remains the same.