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But in actual practice, we know neither the original ratios nor if the specimen has been contaminated and are forced to make what we hope are reasonable assumptions.

It uses accelerator mass spectrometry to determine the amounts of C14 and C12 in a small sample which is vaporised in the test.Radioactive carbon (Carbon 14) is formed in the upper atmosphere as a byproduct of cosmic radiation.Cosmic rays are positively charged atoms moving at enormous speeds. Basis of Radiocarbon Dating Problems with Radiocarbon Dating The Earth's Magnetic Field Table 1 Effect of Increasing Earth's Magnetic Field Removal of Carbon From the Biosphere Water Vapour Canopy Effect on Radiocarbon Dating Figure 1 Apparent Radiocarbon Dates Heartwood and Frozen Time Early Post-Flood Trees Appendix Radiocarbon Date Table HOW ACCURATE IS RADIOCARBON DATING? The normal carbon atom has six protons and six neutrons in its nucleus, giving a total atomic mass of 12.Radiocarbon dating is frequently used to date ancient human settlements or tools. It is a stable atom that will not change its atomic mass under normal circumstances.