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This allows researchers to account for variation by comparing the known records of C levels in the tree record, looking for a tree record that has the same proportion of radiocarbon.

The overlapping nature of the tree records means this is the most accurate record we have.

The sample passes through several accelerators in order to remove as many atoms as possible until the C pass into the detector.

These latter atoms are used as part of the calibration process to measure the relative number of isotopes (9).

It is oxidised quickly and absorbed in great quantities by all living organisms - animal and plant, land and ocean dwelling alike.

The other two isotopes in comparison are more common than carbon-14 in the atmosphere but increase with the burning of fossil fuels making them less reliable for study (2); carbon-14 also increases, but its relative rarity means its increase is negligible. After this point, other Absolute Dating methods may be used.

Today, the radiocarbon-14 dating method is used extensively in environmental sciences and in human sciences such as archaeology and anthropology.

When an organism dies, it stops absorbing the radioactive isotope and immediately starts decaying (7).

As previously mentioned, the half life of the C isotope is 5,730 years - this means that it takes 5,730 years to reach half the radioactivity that the organism had at the point of death, another 5,730 years to reach 25% radioactivity it had at the point of death and so on.

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