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24 May

Plants take up c14 along with other carbon isotopes during photosynthesis in the proportions that occur in the atmosphere; animals acquire c14 by eating the plants (or other animals).

It is these radiocarbons that enable scientists to determine the age of an object.This makes the technique 1,000 to 10,000 times more sensitive than decay counting.The enhanced sensitivity is achieved by accelerating sample atoms as ions to high energies using a particle accelerator, and using nuclear particle detection techniques. Libby, a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago, predicted that a radioactive isotope of carbon, known as carbon-14, would be found to occur in nature.Working with several collaboraters, Libby established the natural occurrence of radiocarbon by detecting its radioactivity in methane from the Baltimore sewer.