A video by the The Rafter Radiocarbon Laboratory NZ regarding carbon dating. Full article and more videos- http://www.eequalsmcsquared.auckland.ac.nz/sites/emc2/videos/cool-kiwi-science.cfm 'The Rafter Radiocarbon Laboratory has a long history in radiocarbon dating. To determine the radiocarbon age of an organic material it is necessary to measure the proportion of radiocarbon (C14) in the carbon that it contains. The technical problem to be solved is the detection of the rare isotope C14 in the presence of the much more abundant isotopes C12 and C13. The natural abundance of 14C is about one 14C atom per trillion (10^12) atoms of C12. What can you date? Anything containing carbon between 150 and 60,000 years old (i.e.: wood, leather, bone, paper, seawater, gases, ice cores, pollen, pottery, coral, seeds, charcoal, blood residues, sediment, soil, shell, textiles, plant and animal tissue, insect remains, cave paintings, resins and glues).' How it works Carbon-14 has half-life of 5730 years Natural abundance of C-14 is one C-14 atom to one trillion C-12 atomsSample is purified physically and chemically in the 'pre-treatment lab' Sample is burnt at 900C turning it into CO2 which is combined with hydrogen and passed over an iron catalyst. Result is pure carbon and water. Graphite carbon pellet is placed at one end of linear accelerator Carbon atoms are 'chipped off' graphite pellet and sent through acceleratorComputer counts the three different types of carbon atoms at other end of accelerator Ratio of carbon-12 and carbon-14 atoms indicates age of sample.