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From these records a “calibration curve” can be built (see figure 2, below).
A huge amount of work is currently underway to extend and improve the calibration curve.
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Samples from the past 70,000 years made of wood, charcoal, peat, bone, antler or one of many other carbonates may be dated using this technique.
Carbon-14 is also passed onto the animals that eat those plants.
After death the amount of carbon-14 in the organic specimen decreases very regularly as the molecules decay.
This method requires less than 1g of bone, but few countries can afford more than one or two AMSs, which cost more than A0,000.
Australia has two machines dedicated to radiocarbon analysis, and they are out of reach for much of the developing world.