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The approximate time since the organism died can be worked out by measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in its remains compared to the amount in living organisms.
How far can you go back in time, and assume an accurate sample with carbon dating?
Rachel Wood does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.
Australian National University provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.
A bit in the other, the rate of fusion drops and the Sun collapses.
Once an organism dies, it stops taking in carbon-14.
The carbon-14 it contained at the time of death decays over a long period of time, and the radioactivity of the material decreases.
Later called Ötzi the Iceman, small samples from his body were carbon dated by scientists.
The results showed that Ötzi died over 5000 years ago, sometime between 33 BC. It is found in the air in carbon dioxide molecules.
Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons.