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Our findings suggest that a significant fraction of all samples (“unknowns”) would be shifted by 2‰ (16 radiocarbon years) or more due to this effect: for example, for b = 1.882, between 16.8% and 25.9% of almost 60,000 radiocarbon values measured at the Keck Carbon Cycle AMS facility between 20 would be affected.

The implications for radiocarbon dating and its accuracy are discussed.

Chemically, carbon-14 is no different from non-radioactive carbon atoms, so it ends up in all the usual carbon places — one trillionth of the carbon atoms in air, plants, animals and us are radioactive.

All radioactive atoms eventually decay into something more stable, and carbon-14 decays into nitrogen.

Scientists use a technique called radiometric dating to estimate the ages of rocks, fossils, and the earth.