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The older a sample is, the less (the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed) is about 5,730 years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50,000 years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples.The idea behind radiocarbon dating is straightforward, but years of work were required to develop the technique to the point where accurate dates could be obtained. The method was developed by Willard Libby in the late 1940s and soon became a standard tool for archaeologists.Libby received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960.In fact, many important archaeological artifacts have been dated using this method including some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Shroud of Turin.Though radiocarbon dating is startlingly accurate for the most part, it has a few sizable flaws.

This variation is caused by both natural processes and human activity.Question: "Is carbon dating a reliable method for determining the age of things?" Answer: Carbon dating, or radiocarbon dating, like any other laboratory testing technique, can be extremely reliable, so long as all of the variables involved are controlled and understood.In last Tuesday’s lecture, radiocarbon dating was covered briefly.It is an essential technology that is heavily involved in archaeology and should be explored in greater depth.

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In a related article on geologic ages (Ages), we presented a chart with the various geologic eras and their ages.