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Half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for an object to lose exactly half of the amount of carbon (or other element) stored in it.

By measuring the rate of production and of decay (both eminently quantifiable), scientists were able to estimate that carbon in the atmosphere would go from zero to equilibrium in 30,000 – 50,000 years.However, a little more knowledge about the exact ins and outs of carbon dating reveals that perhaps it is not quite as fool-proof a process as we may have been led to believe.At its most basic level, carbon dating is the method of determining the age of organic material by measuring the levels of carbon found in it.Radiocarbon dating is a commonly used technique which relies on the fact that, although 99% of carbon atoms have six protons and six neutrons (carbon-12), about 1% have an extra neutron (carbon-13) and about one atom in a trillion has two extra neutrons (carbon-14).C-12 and C-13 are stable but C-14 decays at a known rate, with a half-life of 5,568 years.

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The mass spectrometry of the Greyfriars bone samples reveals that the individual in question had a high-protein diet including a significant proportion of seafood.

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