Radiocarbon dating is used to measure the age of fossils

To measure the amount of radiocarbon left in a artifact, scientists burn a small piece to convert it into carbon dioxide gas.

Radiation counters are used to detect the electrons given off by decaying Carbon-14 as it turns into nitrogen.

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Maybe one in a trillion carbon atoms are carbon-14.Before their discovery by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger and his son in 2008, there were fossils of Homo erectus, the earliest known representative of our own genus Homo, which were dated to around 1.9 million years old.Then there was Lucy, a fossil remain from the pre-Homo hominid Austraopithecus afarensis.In order to date the artifact, the amount of Carbon-14 is compared to the amount of Carbon-12 (the stable form of carbon) to determine how much radiocarbon has decayed.The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 is the same in all living things.

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