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Any organic material that is available in sufficient quantity can be prepared for radiocarbon dating.
In contrast, methane made from petroleum products had no measurable radioactivity.
This discovery meant that there are three naturally occurring isotopes of carbon: Whereas carbon-12 and carbon-13 are stable isotopes, carbon-14 is unstable or radioactive.
The measurement of the rate of radioactive decay is known as its half-life, the time it takes for half of a sample to decay.
Libby calculated the half-life of c14 as 5568 ± 30 years.
This means that half of the c14 has decayed by the time an organism has been dead for 5568 years, and half of the remainder has decayed by 11,136 years after death, etc.