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Once the organism dies, it stops replenishing its carbon supply, and the total carbon-14 content in the organism slowly disappears.

'' But at earlier times, the carbon dates were substantially younger than the dates we estimated by uranium-thorium analysis,'' he said.

Carbon-14 has a half life of 5730 years, meaning that 5730 years after an organism dies, half of its carbon-14 atoms have decayed to nitrogen atoms.

Similarly, 11460 years after an organism dies, only one quarter of its original carbon-14 atoms are still around.

Carbon dating is used by archeologists to date trees, plants, and animal remains; as well as human artifacts made from wood and leather; because these items are generally younger than 50,000 years.

Carbon is found in different forms in the environment – mainly in the stable form of carbon-12 and the unstable form of carbon-14.

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Geologists measure the abundance of these radioisotopes instead to date rocks.

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