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In addition, there are tiny amounts of the unstable isotope carbon-14 (14C) on Earth.

As carbon dioxide is used as the basis for photosynthesis, the radiocarbon is integrated into all living things.

As far as plant or animal dies, the radiocarbon decays.

In 1960, Libby was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for carbon dating.

Carbon has two stable, nonradioactive isotopes: carbon-12 (12C), and carbon-13 (13C).

The level has also been affected by human activities -- it was almost doubled for a short period due to atomic bomb tests in the 1950s and 1960s and has been reduced by the release of large amounts of CO2 from ancient organic sources where 14C is not present -- the fossil fuels used in industry and transportation. Standard calibration curves are available, based on comparison of radiocarbon dates with other methods such as examination of tree growth rings (dendrochronology), ice cores, deep ocean sediment cores, lake sediment varves, coral samples, and speleothems (cave deposits).