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Additional complications come from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, and from the above-ground nuclear tests done in the 1950s and 1960s.Because the time it takes to convert biological materials to fossil fuels is substantially longer than the time it takes for its in the atmosphere, which attained a maximum in about 1965 of almost twice what it had been before the testing began.
Carbon-14 is a radioactive form of carbon, which sounds scary, but it's not dangerous, it just means that it's not stable, so after an organism dies, carbon-14 decays or goes away.
You might be wondering how we know that the Iceman is more than 5,000 years old. Carbon dating is a way of telling the age of a once living thing by measuring the amount of carbon inside of it.
Carbon dating was such an important discovery that American scientist Willard Libby won the top science award called the Nobel Prize for discovering it.
A type of carbon called carbon-14 decays after an organism dies, so by measuring how much of it is remaining in a dead organism, scientists can figure out how old the organism is. We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities.
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