Half of the carbon-14 degrades every 5,730 years as indicated by its half-life.

By measuring the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the sample and comparing it to the ratio in a living organism, it is possible to determine the age of the artifact.

carbon 14 dating machine-41

Researchers have produced a new archaeological tool which could answer key questions in human evolution.

The new calibration curve, which extends back 50,000 years, is a major landmark in radiocarbon dating -- the method used by archaeologists and geoscientists to establish the age of carbon-based materials.

It was developed right after World War II by Willard F.

Libby and coworkers, and it has provided a way to determine the ages of different materials in archeology, geology, geophysics, and other branches of science.

Since the early 1980s, an international working group called INTCAL has been working on the project.

The principle of radiocarbon dating is that plants and animals absorb trace amounts of radioactive carbon-14 from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere while they are alive but stop doing so when they die.It could help research issues including the effect of climate change on human adaption and migrations.The curve called INTCAL09, has just been published in the journal .After the organism dies it stops taking in new carbon.To measure the amount of radiocarbon left in a artifact, scientists burn a small piece to convert it into carbon dioxide gas.Ron Reimer and Professor Emeritus Mike Baillie from Queen's School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology also contributed to the work. "Archaeological 'time machine' greatly improves accuracy of early radiocarbon dating." Science Daily.