Radiocarbon dating works by comparing the three different isotopes of carbon. Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons. This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.

## How do you read carbon dates?

0:522:10How Does Radiocarbon Dating Work? - Instant Egghead #28 YouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clipAfter one half-life the animal will have about half the amount of carbon-14 it started with afterMoreAfter one half-life the animal will have about half the amount of carbon-14 it started with after another half-life it will have about a quarter.

## How do you measure carbon-14?

There are three principal techniques used to measure carbon 14 content of any given sample— gas proportional counting, liquid scintillation counting, and accelerator mass spectrometry. Gas proportional counting is a conventional radiometric dating technique that counts the beta particles emitted by a given sample.