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Once it dies, however, this exchange stops, and the amount of carbon-14 gradually decreases through radioactive beta decay with a half-life of 5,730±40 years.Carbon-14 was discovered on February 27, 1940, by Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben at the University of California Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley.Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! One of the most frequent uses of radiocarbon dating is to estimate the age of organic remains from archaeological sites. Such raw ages can be calibrated to give calendar dates.The neutrons resulting from the cosmic ray interactions participate in the following nuclear reaction on the atoms of nitrogen molecules (N The highest rate of carbon-14 production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km (30,000 to 50,000 ft), and at high geomagnetic latitudes, but the carbon-14 spreads evenly throughout the atmosphere and reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.Carbon dioxide also permeates the oceans, dissolving in the water.Emilio Segrè asserted in his autobiography that Enrico Fermi suggested the concept to Libby in a seminar at Chicago that year.Libby estimated that the steady state radioactivity concentration of exchangeable carbon-14 would be about 14 disintegrations per minute (dpm) per gram.
Such decay counting, however, is relatively insensitive and subject to large statistical uncertainties for small samples.With this technique only detecting those atoms that decay during the time interval allotted for an analysis.